Top 5 Avalanche to Watch 2015-16

4 of 6

Erik Johnson

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson is going to need a new defensive partner in the near future. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Barring the man himself, I daresay few people were more disappointed than I was that defenseman Erik Johnson’s season got cut short with the need for arthroscopic knee surgery. (Ok, there was a whole team of people and a coaching staff who were pretty disappointed.)

At the conclusion of the 2013-14 year, Johnson says the Avalanche coaching staff charged him with building his stamina so he could take on a bigger role on the team. He was flourishing in that role in the 47 games he got to play.

Erik Johnson was finally having the season he was meant to have. The 2013-14 saw him match his career-best numbers, but he looked ready to bust them wide open in 2014-15. By the time he underwent the, well, arthroscope in January, he’d already collected a career-high 12 goals. He was leading the team in ice time. He was leading the team both on and off the ice as well.

We want to see Johnson take over that mantle of leadership. We want to see him thrive and quarterback the blueline. He has the talent, the skill and the work ethic to be the cornerstone, the #1 D-man for Colorado. He’s due.