Pouliot, Griffith and Chad Johnson Sign With Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres have signed two players on July 1, both on one-year deals. Both Benoit Pouliot and Chad Johnson are going to be given opportunities to cement their ability to help a hockey franchise and for the Sabres, the team is banking that one-year, low-risk contracts will pay off handsomely.

Benoit Pouliot Signs

Benoit Pouliot is getting another chance in the NHL, this time with the Buffalo Sabres. After a disappointing season with the Edmonton Oilers in 2016-17, Pouliot was bought out by the Oilers and looking to re-establish himself as a legitimate offensive weapon in the NHL. The Sabres are giving him a chance to do so.

Pouliot has moved around a lot in the NHL. A one-year contract worth $1.15 million tells Pouliot he needs to contribute if he doesn’t want to move again. This will be his seventh team since his debut in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild in 2006-07.

What Pouliot Brings

Benoit Pouliot
Sep 21, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Benoit Pouliot (67) celebrates his goal against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Edmonton Oilers won 3-1. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Pouliot has the ability to be an effective NHL forward. In the past three seasons with the Oilers, he combined for 41 goals and 84 points in 180 games. It’s not great production, but when you consider he brought very little to the team in the final year of that tenure, you realize that Pouliot could be a bounce-back player. He scored 70 points in his first 113 games in Edmonton.

Until this past season, where Pouliot became an example of where hockey analytics failed miserably, he was an analytics darling. He was signed by the Oilers because of his underlying numbers and it was the science behind the stats that earned him such a lengthy contract.

What Buffalo is also getting is a player prone to making poor decisions at crucial moments of a hockey game. Known for taking bad penalties in the offensive zone, Pouliot was often a thorn in the side of the coaching staff and called out numerous times for his tendencies to cost the team.

This contract will be Pouliot’s chance to prove he’s moved past all that.

Chad Johnson Signs

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Along with Pouliot, the Sabres have also brought back Chad Johnson. He’s returning to his former team after signing a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. Johnson is familiar with Buffalo after spending the 2015-16 season with the Sabres. He went 22-16-4 in a career-high 40 games started after Lehner was sidelined by a sprained ankle. IN 2017-18, he’ll be replacing Anders Nilsson who signed in Vancouver.

What Johnson Brings

Johnson had an average season in Calgary in 2016-17, but didn’t necessarily prove he was a legitimate starter in the NHL. He played in 36 games for the Flames and posted an 18-15-1 record with a .910 save percentage, a 2.59 goals-against average and a career-best three shutouts.

Johnson is a dependable backup but also well traveled: he’s played for six teams in his eight NHL seasons. With the Sabres, he might get an opportunity to prove he’s a starting netminder and with this signing, the Sabres addressed a depth need at goalie after prospect Cal Petersen elected to pursue free agency.

In all likelihood, Johnson will compete with Linus Ullmark for the backup job.

Seth Griffith Signs

The Sabres also signed forward Seth Griffith to a one-year $650,000 contract. He’ll likely be a depth player spending most of his time with the Rochester Americans.

Seth Griffith was an elite AHL scorer in 2016-17, although he was not qualified by the Leafs. He scored 44 points in 34 games with the Toronto Marlies.