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Annual expectations thread 2023/24: #6 Erik Johnson


Annual expectations thread 2023/24: #6 Erik Johnson   

31 members have voted

  1. 1. Which of these best reflects your expectations for Erik Johnson this year?

    • He’s washed up and should not have been signed
    • He’s going play 60-something games at an acceptable 3rd-paring level
    • He’s going to provide excellent leadership and surprise as a reliable player with judicious use

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After a long run of being a 25-point man, Johnson’s counting stats fell to negligible last year. He played a lot of minutes in the middle of the season as the Avs fought through a raft of injuries, but his ice time dropped at season’s end and into the playoffs to finish at 17:15 for the year, heavily tilted toward defensive zone starts. After 13 years of being a good soldier in Denver, he was essentially squeezed off the team by the salary cap and the $27 million dedicated to the 5 D they already had under contract. He said in free agency he very quickly targeted Buffalo as the type of organization he wanted to be a part of, encouraged in part by old friend Kyle Okposo


It would be unfair to say Johnson’s counting stats and analytics last year played no role in the Sabres decision to pursue him this summer. But it would be fair to say they meant less than 6’4”, 225 (his height and weight) 920 (his career games played), 1 (his draft slot, and number of Stanley Cups won) and the fact that he added plenty of PK expertise, hits, blocked shots, safe puck management, and the type of veteran experience and leadership Buffalo needed, especially to fellow 1st overall picks Owen Power and Rasmus Dahlin.

What do you expect from Johnson this year?

(*the team hasn’t officially announced it, but Johnson has always worn 6 and has flashed it in Sabres colours.)

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He is the veteran D with instant locker room credibility that our young D group has long needed and KA finally delivered.  He is going to hit, block shots, play smart in zone defense and lead by example.  Hopefully he appears in 70+ games, plays 17 minutes a night, and enhances our PK.  Any O contribution would be a bonus. Let’s pray he stays healthy because the depth behind him is suspect.

The credibility comes from playing years in the NHL, winning a Cup and being a 1st overall pick.  The draft status is particularly interesting to the Sabres because of Dahlin and Power. Has there ever been an NHL team that featured 3 top picks in the same blueline? 


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He will provide leadership with his buddy Okposo. He seemed popular with teammates in Colorado so he should fit in.

I hope there is enough gas in the tank for 60+ games. He can be load managed as required. He may play well enough to be a full time guy.

His experience with shut down, PK work will benefit the young D core.

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My initial impression when we signed him was "does this guy have anything left?"

But, goddamn do I love the concept of what he is supposed to bring. Listening to his Zoom call when he signed, and his session today with Marty and Duffer only reinforces that.

If he can bring a measure of that presence to his play on the ice we're going to love him.

Fingers crossed.

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On 3/12/2023 at 10:08 PM, dudacek said:

Brawndo has pitched Damon Severson on here before as a UFA, which is someone I’d take a look at, RD, just 28 and he’s a solid top 4 guy who could around a while. It will probably take a big contract though.

I don’t like Matt Dumba as much, but he is also available and fits the same profile.

More defence-first guys include Carson Soucy, Scott Mayfield and Radko Gudas.

One guy I might kick the tires on as more of a stop-gap James Patrick/Teppo pickup is Eric Johnson: Stanley Cup ring, RD, former 1st overall pick - might be a good guy for Power to lean on.

Apparently I pitched Johnson on here as a UFA signing months ago.

Idea didn't get a lot of support at the time. 🤷‍♂️

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  • 2 weeks later...

A recruiting pitch by Johnson’s childhood friend and college roommate at the University of Minnesota, Sabres captain Kyle Okposo, helped the Sabres land the 2006 first overall draft pick on a one-year contract that counts $3.25 million against the salary cap. And Johnson has needed only a few weeks in Buffalo to become an influential figure on and off the ice.

Buffalo emerged as Johnson’s top choice. Okposo added to the team’s sales pitch by answering Johnson’s questions and informing him about what the Sabres have built behind the scenes to complement their exciting, fast-paced attack on the ice. Johnson and Okposo became friends at 8 years old when they were teammates in summer hockey. They havve been close ever since and even share the same agent, Pat Brisson.

This isn’t necessarily a one-year trial for Johnson, either. He wants to earn a longer stay while helping his young teammates reach new heights.

“I signed a one-year deal, but hopefully I can be here for a few years and get this team to where it wants to go and get this city a Cup,” he said.




“He’s won a Cup,” said Sabres winger Alex Tuch, who reached the Stanley Cup final with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018. “Immediately, you walk into a room, none of us have, I guess. … Immediately that it goes into leadership. I mean, what is this, his 17th year in the NHL? He’s going to be closing in on 1,000 games. He’s been captain of the Colorado Avalanche, assistant captain and stuff like that. Just the amount of experience, first overall pick. Three first overall pick defensemen, too, that’ll learn a lot from him because he’s played with pressure, he’s played with different teams. He’s played on teams that have really struggled and he’s played on unbelievable hockey teams.

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