Being the top pick of an NHL draft cannot be easy. That’s especially true for Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, who went first in 2006 ahead of the likes of Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel and Nicklas Backstrom.
Really, there’s nothing the 25-year-old blueliner can do about how well those players are performing. Instead, Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post that he simply wants him to be the best player he can be.
“Honestly, I’m confident he’s going to have a really good year. The thing is, we’re going to work really hard with him to ‘don’t live in the past.’ It’s now,” Roy said. “Don’t worry about the ‘first overall’ thing. Don’t worry where people say ‘first overall pick’ – it’s over. We want you to be who you are. Erik needs to be Erik Johnson. Go hard, go out there and play his game and be himself.”
Roy said that as much as the team would like to see him make strides defensively, they don’t want him to sacrifice his offensive output.
Johnson peaked in Colorado with 26 points in 2011-12, but he began his NHL career with two straight 30+ point seasons, including a career-high with 39 as a member of the St. Louis Blues in 2009-10.
Sure, to some, Johnson will always be the answer to a trivia question and the catalyst for plenty of “What if?” scenarios, but the Avalanche would be glad to see him simply max out his still-considerable potential.
Honestly, it’s tough to blame people for making Edmonton Oilers jokes in regards to the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.
Really it’s only human nature to drop one-liners about the perennial cellar-dweller that (seemingly) always lands the No. 1 pick.
Will it happen again this time around? We’ll find out soon enough, more precisely sometime around 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
As you can see, the Oilers do not have the best odds to land the top pick … but they’re close:
A reminder: this time around the lottery will determine the top three picks. The NHL discusses that tweak and other changes here:
For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.
Want the full lowdown on the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery? PHT has you covered here.
The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Some reading to get you pumped up:
– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media (reportedly).
– Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.
– T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.
– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).
– Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win.
For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.
Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.
But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.
Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.
When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.
Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.
The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.
Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.
This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.
Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.