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Bet the House: Erik Johnson

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Welcome back to a summer series taking a look at what the next season holds, one player at a time. We're running it down numerically, which means today, soaring down from on high, is Erik Johnson.

EJ contemplates the meaning of life, the universe, and everything
EJ contemplates the meaning of life, the universe, and everything
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The punctuation is back by popular demand. Figured I should do what the fans want for a piece on such a fan favorite.

Last Season

Erik Johnson's season last year has to be one of the most frustrating seasons ever. You can imagine ways to make it worse, because life is never so terrible it can't suddenly take a downward spiral, but what happened was very not fun.

Halfway through the year, Johnson had a career high season for goals already with 12 (thanks to a 10.4% shot), an All-star nomination, clearly just his best season as a pro and it was only getting better. Then he missed the actual All-star weekend with a knee injury and never returned. Best season so far = season ending knee injury, GG. It was very sad, but here's some great rate stats he put up though (check out yesterday's on Guenin for a brief explanation if this is alien to you):

Johnson-HERO

You might notice a rather low on-ice goals-for going on here. This time it isn't percentages - Johnson's PDO was right around 100. But he had the lowest relative offensive zone starts among Avalanche defensemen. Your line doesn't score a lot if the first 20 seconds of its shift is spent cleaning up the last shift's mess. Roy also tends to just match best vs best, meaning Johnson was facing the toughest competition possible all the time.

But EJ generated more shots (dCF Impact = 45.8) and suppressed more shots (dCA Impact = -28.06, negative is good) than his role indicated, and had he continued the whole year that way, he would have finished at the top of the team in this measure alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Not bad.

What does it mean for 2015?

Almost all signs point to a new season of domination for Erik Johnson.

  • Caveat 1: That shooting percentage is coming down friends. He is very unlikely to have a 20-goal pace again.
  • Caveat 2: He's coming off a major knee injury. Those take more time to heal 100% than they do to heal to playing shape, so there's a decent chance he takes a good chunk of the season to get the knee all the way back to normal. For a smooth skater like EJ, that might hurt the transition game a bit, a real strength of his that helps set him apart on this blueline.

But apart from those two things, yeah, no reason to think he isn't going to continue owning in 2015.