Erik Johnson is one of the more recognizable players among Colorado Avalanche fans. Some of the reasons for this credit are his presence on the ice and his ability to lead the defensemen on the team.
Johnson continued to make a name for himself in the 2015-16 campaign as he reached a few milestones, including recording a career-high two short-handed goals during the year, tied for the most on the club with forward Blake Comeau.
The Bloomington, Minnesota, native registered a few of his landmark achievements in comeback victories for the Avalanche.
He secured his 50th career goal early last season when he notched it during a power play in the second period against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 10. The score began a run of five unanswered goals and a 6-3 win for the Avs over the eventual Central Division champions.
Nearly a month later on Nov. 12, Johnson reached 200 career points with an assist on Francois Beauchemin's tying goal in Boston, where Colorado again erased a deficit to pick up the victory.
The defenseman finished with 11 goals and 16 assists during the season, finishing third among Avs blueliners in scoring with 27 points. It marked the third straight season in which he ended the year as one of the top three scoring defenders on Colorado.
After missing the second half of the 2014-15 season with a knee injury, Johnson stayed relatively healthy last year, appearing in 73 games and finally reaching the 500-game mark at home on Feb. 2 against Chicago.
“It’s nice to definitely hit that, especially being an American guy, growing up in Minnesota,” said Johnson of hitting the half-century point in NHL games played. “Not too many American defenseman have even played that many games, so I just want to keep going and continue to play well and play as many games as I can.”
There will be many more contests in Johnson's future, and he'll do it in an Avalanche sweater. Prior to the start of last year, the 28-year-old signed a seven-year contract extension that will keep him in burgundy and blue through the 2022-23 season.
“Erik is a big part of the core of this team,” stated Avalanche executive vice president/general manager Joe Sakic at the time of the signing. “We felt like it was important for our franchise to secure his rights for the long term as he enters the prime years of his career.”
“I’m humbled, honored and very excited to be part of this group for the next seven years,” said Johnson. "I can’t wait to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Denver.”
Johnson will once again be one of the key players that will be looked upon to help get the Avs back to the postseason in 2016-17 and return a championship to the Mile High City.
ColoradoAvalanche.com's Ron Knabenbauer contributed to this story.