Former No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Finished in Colorado

He's spent 13 of his 15 NHL seasons with the team, but it appears that the run is over for 35-year-old Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson. A report on Thursday suggests his days in the thin air of Denver are done.

ESPN's Emily Kaplan is reporting that the Avs will not be re-signing Johnson, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. Whether he's played his final NHL game, however, is still to be determined. 

Johnson was the top overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues. After two fine seasons to begin his career there, they moved him to the Avalanche near the trade deadline in the 2010-11 season. And he's been there ever since.

He has a number of solid defensive seasons on his resume, and a Stanley Cup ring from 2022 to show for his years in Colorado. He missed plenty of time due to injuries over the course of his career, including nearly the entire 2020-21 season due to a concussion that even forced him to consider retirement.

He was still able to play over 17 minutes per game this season (though it marked the lowest TOI of his career), but registered only eight assists and no goals. He was, however, one of the team's primary penalty-killers. 

Johnson is coming off a seven-year, $42M contract, and it wouldn't surprise anyone if he thought about retirement once again this summer. 

“If it’s the end of the road or not, I was just proud to play here for as long as I did,” Johnson said after the Avs were eliminated in the first round this year. “I’m just grateful for everything.”

 Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports