WHEELING - The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, have signed forward Chaz Johnson to an ECHL contract - their first player signing of the season.
"Chaz is a great character person that will prove to be a Chaz Johnsongreat asset for both the Nailers and the city of Wheeling," Nailers Coach Clark Donatelli said. "On the ice, he is a hard-nosed and gritty power forward, who has the ability to put points on the board. I believe that he has the potential to reach the American Hockey League, and I hope our younger players can learn from the way he carries himself."
Johnson, 29, is a well-known player around the ECHL, having suited up in 285 regular season games with the Elmira Jackals, Ontario Reign, and Chicago Express. As his numbers indicate, Chaz has the ability to put a significant amount of points on the board, while also contributing a physical style of play, as he has totaled 92 goals, 84 assists, 176 points, and 735 penalty minutes in his ECHL career.
"This is my ninth season as a pro, and I am trying to win a championship," Johnson said. "I know what I can still bring to a team. I'm a power forward, I play physical, and I am an all-around player. I have experience, and I can bring leadership and work ethic."
In addition, the Montreal, QC native has had the opportunity to showcase his talents at the AHL level, appearing in 77 games with the Milwaukee Admirals, Rochester Americans, Hershey Bears, Binghamton Senators, Manchester Monarchs, and Springfield Falcons. Johnson will become the first veteran player (260+ games in the NHL, AHL, ECHL) to suit up for the Nailers since Shane Willis (1 game during 2008-09) and Francois Leroux (28 games during 2007-08).
"I chose Wheeling, because it was the best opportunity for me to get to a higher level," Johnson said. "I needed a change, and there was a team that wanted me the most. You can't match want, and when it came down to want, Wheeling wanted me the most."
Johnson and his new teammates will face his former teammates first, when the Wheeling Nailers open the season against the Elmira Jackals at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 at at WesBanco Arena.