SUN Hockey Pool

Insurance policy hopes to fit in

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Aaron Johnson has lived a whirlwind life, so you could understand if he had a tough time smiling.

Instead, you couldn't wipe the grin off the newest Flame if you tried when he arrived in Edmonton in time to see his new team's game last night against the Oilers.

"I'm excited," Johnson said. "Any chance you come to a team like this, you look forward to it. I'm excited to get on the ice, get a couple practices in and see where I stand.

"It's been a hectic three weeks. It'll be nice to get settled down and get to a spot where a team's looking for you. In a trade situation, the good side of thing is there's a team looking forward to getting you there."

The Flames had only six healthy defencemen due to the foot injury suffered by Cory Sarich, which has sidelined him every game so far this season. Johnson provides them insurance should another defender go down or struggle.

The team has been tightlipped about Sarich's status.

Johnson, acquired Wednesday from the Chicago Blackhawks for minor-league forward Kyle Greentree was in Europe last week, where his old team played pre-season games in Switzerland and opened the campaign with back-to-back clashes against the Florida Panthers.

The 26-year-old didn't dress in those games against Florida, and the writing on the wall was evident when the Blackhawks placed him on waivers because he was eighth on the depth chart with a one-way, US$540,000 contract.

"I was talking to my agent (Alan Walsh) a couple of days before, and we were trying to figure out what the situation was," said Johnson, who will don No. 44. "He was given permission to talk to other teams."

In 184 NHL games, the 6-foot-1, 208-lb. product of Port Hawkesbury, N.S., has collected 10 goals 26 assists and 156 penalty minutes. He was a plus-19 last season in Chicago, and had three goals and five assists in 38 games.

"He's a kid that plays hard and competes," said head coach Brent Sutter. "He'll fit in. You never have enough depth on the back end of your hockey team because it's a long year.

"The last two years in New Jersey, there were times we had five guys healthy enough to play.

"We have good depth here now and good depth in the farm system. He brings us that and is a solid player that plays hard."

Where that will be remains to be seen.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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