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.