Erik Johnson Takes Long-Term Extension With Avs

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson has inked a seven-year contract extension, the team announced on Tuesday evening. That will keep Johnson on contract through the 2022-23 season.

The deal is worth a reported $6 million AAV, making it a $42 million deal, according to Terry Frei of the Denver Post. Darren Dreger reports that the contract comes with a limited no trade clause.

The 2006 1st overall draft pick of the St. Louis Blues is entering his eighth NHL season at age 27 and should be simultaneously entering the prime of his career. While his career got off to a slow start and saw him traded from the Blues to the Avs, he has taken some large strides forward over the last two years.

Despite missing almost half the season last year, he put up a career-high 12 goals. Part of that may be the style of play that has been implemented over the last two seasons under new head coach Patrick Roy.

Despite taking the worst relative zone starts of his career in those two years — -7.6% and 7.0% ZSO%Rel — he managed to create more offense than ever under a system that activates defenseman well and has them frequently joining the rush.

The Bloomington, Minnesota native posted a 4.2% score-adjusted CF%Rel as well, making him a valuable asset for Colorado’s possession black hole. He had that great of a relative mark while having a total score-adjusted CF% of just 46%.

The question remains for Johnson whether the increase in offensive production is a symptom of a system that allows defensemen to activate at the expense of his own zone and whether his possession numbers are just the numbers of a middle-of-the-road defender on a team that has difficulty maintaining possession.

Johnson appears to be trending in the right direction. Either way, he will answer those questions in the next couple years and he’ll answer them in Colorado, since he’ll be there for the next eight years.

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