Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 11/7/11
"When they tell you to find a place, it means you are on the team at least for now," Johnson said. "It's a neat thing to go through, so I am pretty happy looking around." The news was settling to the 25-year-old, who has had a hectic few months. On Sept. 29, Johnson was claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that drafted him in 2004. Since then, he has been living in a hotel and adjusting to a new team. "It's been a challenge," he said. "A wild ride. I have never been traded or anything like that. It's funny in a way -- you get to realize there are good guys around the league. They have treated me really well." Minnesota has provided a fresh start for Johnson, who was victim of the numbers game in a very deep Penguins lineup. "It is definitely an opportunity for me on this team," he said. "It's a young team with some stars, and I feel like I fit in and I just have to keep trying to solidify my spot." Johnson played the first three games of the season but was a healthy scratch when forward Brad Staubitz came back from suspension. "We weren't really sure what was going on for a bit there," he said. "You just have to stay patient. You can't let it bother you; now and then you get a little frustrated, but you just stay with it." An injury to Guillaume Latendresse provided an opportunity for Johnson to get back in the lineup on Oct. 22 in Vancouver. The physical forward made an immediate impact, earning 15 minutes of ice time and setting up Kyle Brodziak for a second-period goal. "When the time came, it was just nice to be able to still be in shape and just go out and play," said Johnson, who has played in every game since being reinserted into the lineup. He is scheduled to play again Tuesday against the Flames in his home city of Calgary, a first for him in his NHL career. "Going home for the first time and playing in the Saddledome is really cool," he said. Johnson, like most Canadian boys, grew up playing hockey outside on ponds and on a rink his dad built every year in Alberta, however his path to the NHL differed. Instead of playing juniors, Johnson followed his dad, Kevin, now an emergency medical doctor, and mom, Annie, to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Johnson's dad, who was from Western Canada, led the Dartmouth hockey team in scoring in 1977. His mom, a native of Wayland, Mass., came from a long line of family members who attended Dartmouth. "It is kind of a strange thing coming from Calgary," Johnson said of attending an Ivy League school. "It is unique thing for me to have in my back pocket having the college route out there. It was a blast and it has helped me with hockey, too, for sure." Johnson, who had 57 goals and 68 assists in four years at Dartmouth, said the college experience helped him mature and also provided a great education, which was a priority in his family. "Getting your degree was bigger than hockey," said Johnson, who graduated with a degree in psychology in 2008. "Making the NHL is pretty slim possibility. It is nice that it has worked out, but I am glad (my parents) were all over me for that." For now, using his degree will have to wait as Johnson has found a home in the NHL.
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