Sabres defenseman Erik Johnson will dress against the Hurricanes on Sunday night, head coach Don Granato said (via Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald). The 35-year-old missed Friday’s 2-1 road win in Columbus with an illness.
It’s been an underwhelming first season in Buffalo for the 16-year veteran, who signed a one-year, $3.25MM contract when free agency opened on July 1. Signed to provide defensive stability at the bottom of the lineup, he’s averaged a career-low 14:06 per game, save for his injury-shortened 2020-21 campaign. Despite his minimal usage, his possession metrics are among the worst on the team, logging a 46.5 CF% at even strength. He has three goals, no assists, and a -3 rating through 48 games, partially limited by an upper-body injury that cost him Buffalo’s final four games before the All-Star break.
Recent AHL call-up Kale Clague will likely be scratched to make way for Johnson’s return to the lineup. He has one assist and an even rating while averaging 10:21 through a pair of NHL contests this season.
More updates from the Eastern Conference:
- Winger Victor Olofsson will also be available to the Sabres tonight after recovering from an illness that kept him home during their two-game road trip, per Heather Engel of NHL.com. However, he’s projected to serve as a healthy scratch for the 20th time this season. The 28-year-old has just four goals and 12 points in 35 games this year, both pacing out as career lows, and he’s only made five appearances since the beginning of 2024.
- Maple Leafs defenseman Maxime Lajoie is no longer listed on the NHL roster on the league’s media site, indicating he’s been returned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, Jonas Siegel of The Athletic relays Sunday. Toronto has ferried Lajoie, 26, in between leagues multiple times over the past few weeks, although this move will likely be longer-lasting. Lajoie last played in Wednesday’s win over the Coyotes, and the Maple Leafs need roster space to reinstate Joseph Woll from LTIR and defenseman Mark Giordano from the non-roster list, both of which should occur over the next week. He’s been a decent reserve option when called upon, recording one assist and a +1 rating in seven games while averaging 12:43.
- Blue Jackets winger Alexandre Texier won’t play Sunday against the Rangers due to illness, Jeff Svoboda of the Blue Jackets’ official site says. As such, 2016 eighth-overall pick Alexander Nylander will make his Blue Jackets debut after being acquired from the Penguins on Thursday. The France-born Texier has only missed two games this season, also due to illness, coming around U.S. Thanksgiving. He has eight goals in 18 points in 54 showings for Columbus after playing last season in the Swiss National League while on personal leave from the club.