Report: Marlies sign Giant Slayer Justin Johnson to AHL Contract

According to Sportsnet’s Andrew Walker, the Toronto Marlies have signed Anchorage, Alaska native Justin Johnson to an AHL contract. That means the Leafs’ minor league system could get significantly more punchy.

The 34-year old has spent the majority of his career splitting time between the AHL and ECHL, but did enjoy a brief (and memorable) two-game stint in the NHL with the New York Islanders.

Here’s what this deal really boils down to… Kyle Dubas, GM of the Marlies, just signed a guy who put up 64 points and a whopping 1,410 penalty minutes in just 390 career games across three professional leagues. 

That seems very uncharacteristic… Should we all collectively panic? No. That would be stupid. This deal has so little impact on the Toronto Maple Leafs organization that it’s barely worth mentioning.

Johnson will likely spend most of his time with ECHL Orlando as opposed to with the Marlies, which is probably a significant improvement over his last season spent with ECHL Alaska. The guy is probably just looking for an opportunity to thaw out. 

In the unlikely situation that Johnson does find himself with the Marlies, it will likely mean that one of the organization’s actual prospects will shift down to Orlando to get increased ice time and a better opportunity to play. An argument could be made that it’s better to fill out the Marlies’ fourth line with veterans than hinder a young players’ development by playing him only eight minutes a game. Still, it likely won’t come to that.

Feel free to freak out in the comments anyway. 

  • Always worth keeping in mind that there’s no SPC limit for guys signed to AHL deals. Marlies could literally sign players to AHL/ECHL two ways just to keep them from going to other teams camps and loan them out after, losing nothing but relatively smalla mounts of money

  • THIS IS TOTAL B.S.! HOW COULD YOU NOT HAVE DONE THE RESEARCH TO LEARN THAT HE’S FROM ANCHORAGE AND PROBABLY ENJOYED PLAYING AT HOME LAST YEAR IN THE FROZEN TUNDRA AMONG FAMILY AND FRIENDS?!?

    Wait, what? That’s not what we’re supposed to be outraged about? My bad…

    • Gary Empey

      Ha Ha, I like your take. That said, Alaska sucks in the winter so why not work somewhere else and he’s a black guy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some unpleasant experiences growing up there… ’cause I’ve been there and I’m not white or native. Not sayin’, just sayin’

  • V

    Nice to see the spin zone is in full effect folks. The flip flopping on narratives is reminding me of a Simmons article.

    But if we are playing to this level stupid, then indulge me because I see no problem with this signing. In fact, Dubas could sign every over the hill face puncher and take a roster place away from a skilled and talented player with high upside for the ECHL/marlies because reasons. You know because we all believe grit and character trumps skill.

    Sorry folks the potato won this round. But colour me surprised as I didn’t realize there were so many soup can and closet facepuncher fans in the blogosphere.

    I see this as a mistake. A small one but a mistake nonetheless. Nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade because I can both be disappointed with this move and still cautiously optimistic with the direction of the team.

    • Don’t the marlies already employ an enforcer in Clune?

      I’m not sure why we need two enforcers on the marlies/ECHL this seems like a redux of Orr/Mclaren.

      But I’m sure Shanny has a logical and well thought out plan here. Hopefully he he wants Clune who is more skilled in the NHL to protect our young stars (kadri, rielly) and will use this guy to protect our young players (Nylander, Kapanen). I like how Shanny blends both new world and old world hockey to build a complete team.

  • Ok let me just say if this was a move Nonis made then there would be hyberbolic loud noises and outrage. But because this is done by the chosen child – well of course he can do no wrong.

    I don’t like the signing. And it is worrisome that management feels that in modern analytics based hockey philosphy they talk about – they see value in players like this over more skilled player. Let’s all hope this type of thinking doesn’t spread to the leaf team like the days of Burke.

  • V

    I’m not for this signing, I’m not against it.

    The one thing I’d like perspective on would be why sign this guy instead of resigning Colton Orr?

    I’m not saying we should have resigned him, but if management wanted players to fill roster spots to keep the young buds in the ECHL, why not sign a guy who has been long term with the organisation?

  • Gary Empey

    An organization can never have enough truculence. Yesiree most leaf fans miss the likes of Komisarek, Exelby, Orr, McLaren, all real men, real hockey players.

    Good to see the new brain trust using the advice of Brian Burke.

    Watching the Jays lose their 11th out of 15 home games in Seattle today, I couldn’t help but notice how young most of the Jay fans are. The reason I thought about this was the observation the other day that only one of the ink stained wretches in here actually was alive when Lou became the head honcho for New Jersey.

    I would presume some of the writers are also Jay fans but in reality would have been 4 or 5 at most when the Jays won the back to back World Series. That being the case, they likely would have no recollection of those two championship Jay teams. I can comprehend the writing style of the Leaf nation staff who are in their mid twenties as they have not had the opportunity of writing about a playoff win unless they were writing for the local junior high school newspaper.

    We all reflect on where we were born, for the majority of us we were lucky to have either been born or immigrated to Canada. But imagine if you were born in Boston or moved to Boston and were taught law by Iggy, you would have seen 43 playoff rounds in the past decade.

    Toronto you ask?? Three playoff rounds, all of them embarrassing defeats.

    On a serious vain, there is nothing I would like more than to actually see Toronto teams make the playoffs so the young people can actually experience a winner for a change.

  • silentbob

    I like it. They get rid of Devane (who I liked) but they get back Taylor Beck and then sign Johnson and give up no asset. It’s almost like they got like Taylor Beck for free and still have a heavyweight in the minors.

    Johnson takes no roster spot but can up from the minors if some team ices goons like John Scott (they fight) and you can keep your skilled players from getting a stick suspension like Kessel did.

    The same applies for the Marlies. If some team ices goons, you put Johnson in to fight and make sure Nylander and Brown stay out of it.

    Johnson is 34 so you don’t worry about hurting his development by sitting him for many of the games he won’t be needed.

    Clune is not a real heavyweight. NJ had some tough guys over the years. I wonder if Lou had something to do with this?

    • Gary Empey

      Yes I totally agree. And I would add to your brilliant logic that players like John Scott are still in the NHL so by this logic we need to sign Colton Orr to protect our star players.

      The issue is that despite all their supercomupters and analysis, these GMs just can’t help themselves for the lustre of grit, character and heart.

      • Gary Empey

        If the Leaf management has a concern for our young prospects it will be certain players on other teams taking cheap shots. As in those low checks that take out someone’s knee or a high check to the head causing a concussion. Whether Justin Johnson can help to control that I don’t know enough about him. If all he can do is staged fights then I don’t see the value in signing him.

  • silentbob

    I don’t follow the OHL (to say nothing of the ECHL) closely enough to know what that league is like. Is their still a role/need for enforces at the AHL/ECHL level?