The St. Louis Blues have gotten their most important player back in the fold signing restricted free agent defenseman Erik Johnson to a two-year deal worth $5.2 million. Johnson was the number one overall pick in the 2006 NHL draft and lynchpin along the blue line. In two seasons, Johnson has 15 goals and 57 assists. He missed all of the 2008-2009 season with a knee injury.
What’s a bit interesting about the deal is that the cap hit is so friendly ($2.6 million) and that it’s just for two years. Johnson is 22 years-old so he’ll be a restricted free agent again at the end of this deal, but why not sign him to a longer contract? He’s a very good defenseman, he’s a career Blue for the time being and the team really likes him. Oh, right, there’s that whole possible labor problem coming in two years.
I’m not saying that that was a factor here for either side, but it works out nicely for the Blues that Johnson would still be an RFA when this deal runs out so they don’t run the risk of losing him when the contract ends. That way if there is a labor stoppage of any kind, they also don’t have to worry about the player getting disgruntled over losing money on a contract that extends past that possible disruption year. It’s nice having storm clouds looming on the horizon.