When the Colorado Avalanche traded for Devon Toews last offseason, it helped to give them one of the strongest top-4 defense groups in the NHL. It also meant that general manager Joe Sakic would have a hard time protecting everyone from the Seattle Kraken at the expansion draft. Now, thanks to a selfless move from the team’s elder statesman, Sakic’s job just became a lot easier.
Tuesday morning, reports confirmed that veteran defender Erik Johnson will waive his no-movement clause so that the team doesn’t have to use one of their protection spots on him at next week’s expansion draft.
Had Johnson not been willing to waive his NMC, the team would have been forced into a very tough decision and inevitably would have left a really good player exposed. Now, with Johnson, the Avs can protect Cale Makar, Sam Girard and Devon Toews on the blueline as well as seven forwards.
The decision was likely an easy one for Johnson as it is very unlikely that Seattle would select him. He is coming off a couple serious injuries that has kept him sidelined for all but four games last season. At 33-years old and with two years left on his contract at a cap hit of $6m - and the added uncertainty of his health - Johnson almost certainly isn’t the type of player that Seattle would like to build around.
A favorite of fans - and more importantly his teammates - Johnson’s future is still up in the air. If he is able to get back to health, he could provide the team with the type of strong veteran leadership the blueline was lacking during this year’s playoff run. If not, it will be back to LTIR and some extra cap space for the Avs to fill holes elsewhere.
The expansion draft will take place on July 21st with protection lists due to be submitted to the league no later than this Saturday.