As each day passed and defense prospect Ryan Johnson moved closer to free agency, it seemed less likely he would sign with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres spoke to Johnson, the 31st overall pick in 2019, in April after his collegiate season at Minnesota ended and said they wanted to sign him. Then they began waiting.
The ball, general manager Kevyn Adams said last month, was in Johnson’s court.
On Saturday, the Sabres signed Johnson, 21, to a two-year, entry-level contract. He will report to the Rochester Americans, who are competing in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Johnson, who was drafted by Adams’ predecessor, Jason Botterill, could’ve become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The 6-foot, 170-pound Johnson played four years with Minnesota, compiling nine goals, 59 points and 54 penalty minutes in 143 games. He registered four goals, 18 points and eight penalty minutes in 40 contests in 2022-23. The Golden Gophers lost in the national championship game to Quinnipiac.
The Sabres acquired the pick they used to draft Johnson in the Ryan O’Reilly trade with the St. Louis Blues.
Johnson, who grew up in California, is the son of former NHL forward Craig Johnson.