Johnson signs NHL contract

WINDSOR, Ont. – Calumet High School alum Ben Johnson signed a three-year, two-way entry level contract with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

The Devils drafted him 90th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and had until June 1 to sign him if they wanted to retain his rights.

“It was a little nerve-racking, but I’m happy to get it done and move on,” Johnson said to the Windsor (Ont.) Star. “I definitely had some times where I was wondering if I would ever sign. Overall, I was confident they liked me as a player and a person.”

At the conclusion of his third season of Major Junior play with the Ontario Hockey League Windsor Spitfires, Johnson auditioned late in the season with the Devils’ American Hockey League affiliate in Albany, N.Y., picking up an assist in five games.

A 19-year-old two-way forward, Johnson developed a reputation as one of the fastest skaters in the OHL and was also one of the Spitfires’ top penalty killers.

Johnson has now logged 169 games at the Major Junior level. He reached career highs in goals (28), assists (25), points (53) and plus-minus (plus-18) last season, had a career low in penalty minutes (30 in 59 games) and was his team’s leading playoff scorer with four goals and two assists in four postseason games.

Johnson’s options for next season remain open. The Devils can place him within their farm system (or even, if they feel he’s deserving, on the big club), or he can return to Windsor for one more season as an ‘overage’ (20-year-old) player.