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Avalanche give defenseman Erik Johnson four-year extension

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com
Despite being just 24, Erik Johnson already wears an A in Colorado. (Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche had a lot of money to spend this summer to reach the salary floor. Some of that money was going to re-signing their own restricted free agents. That's just what they did on Tuesday.

The Avalanche signed defenseman Erik Johnson to a four-year extension for $15 million according to NHL Network's E.J. Hradek. That's a cap hit of $3.75 million for all you mathematicians out there.

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Johnson came to the Avalanche two seasons ago in the big deal with the Blues that saw Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk go to St. Louis. He was just 22 at the time and the Avs believed they were getting a good defenseman for a long time to come. That hasn't changed since he came to Colorado.

“Since Erik's arrival in Colorado, he has provided stability, size and an offensive presence to our blueline,” Avalanche General Manager/Executive Vice President Greg Sherman said in the team's release. “At only 24 years of age, we believe that Erik will continue to grow his game and we are thrilled to have him under contract.”

This past season for the Avalanche Johnson had 4 goals and 22 assists. The four goals were actually the lowest of any of his four NHL seasons so it would signal it was a bit of a down year and a rebound is likely for Johnson. Two seasons ago he had eight goals with 21 assists.

But obviously Johnson has value beyond offense from the back end. The Avs have a solid core of young defensemen, least of which is Johnson. So they get him locked in until he's 28 at a pretty reasonable price, just a touch more than what they gave to Matt Duchene ($3.5 million per).

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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