After six full seasons stateside, Colorado Avalanche pending free agent netminder Jonas Johansson is opting to return home. The 27-year-old has signed a two-year contract with Färjestad BK of the SHL, according to a team announcement Tuesday.
Johansson was originally a member of the Buffalo Sabres, drafted by them in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft. After multiple years in the minors, he was traded to the Avalanche in March 2021 and appeared in nine games with the team during the 2020-21 season. Since then, he’s stayed mostly in the Colorado organization, aside from a brief stint with the Florida Panthers in 2021-22 after they claimed him on waivers.
This past season was Johansson’s best professionally by a country mile. He played in 26 games with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, his most with a single team in a single season since he played 27 with the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones in 2018-19. He did well there, recording a .920 save percentage and a 14-9-2 record. In three appearances with Colorado this season, he posted a .932 save percentage and 2-0-0 record.
Still, with Johansson tossed around between leagues constantly over the past few seasons, it’s no surprise he’s opted for stability in the SHL. A return to North America isn’t out of the question upon expiration of his contract, though, as Johansson said in a translated statement:
The dream of the NHL will always live on as long as you play, I think. But at this stage in life, it feels good to be able to come home and play. A little closer to friends and family and get to experience Swedish hockey again. It will be a lot of fun.
Färjestad BK is one of the most successful teams in the SHL, having won 10 SHL/Elitserien championships in its history. The team finished in third place during the 2022-23 season but was upset by Frölunda HC in a seven-game quarterfinal series.
Johansson is currently the only goaltender on the Färjestad roster for 2023-24, and he’s likely the starter based on his recent play in the minors and extensive professional experience.
If Johansson does finish out his pro career in Sweden rather than returning to North America, he wraps up his NHL career with an 11-13-4 record in 35 games, posting one shutout, a 3.35 goals-against average, and .886 save percentage.