Longest tenured Avs player leaves for new destination

Jul 1, 2023, 11:02 AM

Erik Johnson...

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Longtime Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson has signed a one-year contract worth $3.25 million to join the Buffalo Sabres, the team announced Saturday.

Johnson, 35, has recorded 88 goals and 249 assists over 15 seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche. He is tied for 20th among active NHL defensemen with 920 career games played.

A former first-overall pick, Johnson won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Avalanche in 2022 and has recorded 13 points in 55 career playoff games.

Johnson was the longest-tenured Denver athlete, a member of the Avs since 2011. The veteran d-man missed some time last season and has slowly been passed over in parings by Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Bowen Byram, Samuel Girard and Josh Manson.

Johnson will always be known for his strong contributions to the rebuilding Avs, bridging eras for the team and helping them eventually win a cup. There was some retirement buzz around Johnson last season but now he sticks around and will try to reach 1,000 NHL regular season games.

Kurtis MacDermid is currently Colorado’s sixth defenseman so they’ll be looking for something a bit more steady than the known enforcer. One of the Avs keys to winning the cup last summer was their veteran depth on the blue line, something they’ll need to replace with Johnson outgoing.

Buffalo meanwhile hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011, so EJ will work his vet skills in helping the struggling franchise.

The Avs also lost Matt Neito on Saturday.



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