Breathe easy, Avalanche fans. Erik Johnson is staying in Colorado.
Set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the Avalanche’s No. 1 defenceman inked a seven-year, $42-million extension with Colorado Tuesday.
“Erik is a big part of the core of this team,” Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said in a release. “We felt it was important for our franchise to secure his rights for the long term as he enters the prime years of his career.”
By extending his deal, the 27-year-old Minnesota native turned down an opportunity to be one of the most coveted blueliners on the open market next summer.
Johnson’s current contract, which expires July 1, carries a $3.75 million salary cap hit. He’ll see that number raise to $6 million beginning 2016-17.
“I’m humbled, honoured and very excited to be part of this group for the next seven years,” Johnson said.
“Thank you to the Kroenke family, Joe [Sakic], Patrick [Roy] and the entire Avalanche organization for their trust. And thank you to all the Avalanche fans for their support. I can’t wait to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Denver.”
A silver medallist for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Games, the 2006 first-overall pick is hitting his NHL prime. When he was named to the 2015 All-Star Game, Johnson was leading all NHL defencemen in goals. A knee injury cut his season short, and he registered 23 points in 47 games.
In 456 career contests with the Avs and the St. Louis Blues, Johnson has 48 goals, 145 assists and 301 penalty minutes. He is expected to be paired with new acquisition Francois Beauchemin for the 2015-16 season.
Roy and Sakic must now turn their attention to other key Avalanche players on expiring contracts. Forward Nathan MacKinnon and defenceman Tyson Barrie both become restricted free agents this summer.
September 22, 2015