Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson is getting ready to enter the final year of his current contract with the team. After next season, he’s slated to be an unrestricted free agent.
Now, unrestricted free agents, especially those of Erik Johnson‘s caliber, have quite a few options. One is to chase the money, like Paul Stastny did and like Ryan O’Reilly was fixing to do. Another is to give the hometown discount to your current team, like defenseman Johnny Oduya tried to do with the Chicago Blackhawks. (And like Paul Stastny said he would do for the Avalanche.)
Currently, an odd trend has been occurring up North. Players who grew up and/or went to college in Minnesota are willingly choosing to go play for the Minnesota Wild. Now, I don’t have to tell you that this is freakishly weird — why would anyone choose to go play for the Minnesota Wild unless a ridiculously lucrative contract — the kind that includes a small island off the coast of Mexico — is involved?
It started with Zach Parise a few years back, though he did get a stupidly lucrative contract, too. It has continued with former University of Minnesota Golden Gophers currently on the roster — Thomas Vanek, Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine. Defenseman Nate Prosser and forward Ryan Carter, who both grew up in Minnesota, just willingly re-signed with the team.
And now Mike Reilly who was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets and so had a chance to play for a team with much nicer uniforms — not to mention a more, shall we say, honest approach to hockey — eschewed his draft team and signed with Minnesota.
Some special guests to Mile High Sticking are going to examine this bizarre occurrence at a future date. We suspect the occult might be involved. However, until they get it sorted out, we in Avs Nation have a problem on our hands. The Colorado Avalanche’s #1 defenseman, Erik Johnson, not only attended the University of Minnesota, he grew up in that state. It’s a double-whammy of Minni-ness.
Let’s examine why exactly EJ should turn his back on the call of the Wild. (That’s right — I went there.)