The Blues need to think long and hard about the contract they want to offer RFA Erik Johnson. I understand why the Blues are hesitant to offer him a multi-year deal since he has only played two NHL seasons since being drafted first overall in 2006, but after the season he just had I believe he is only going to get better. I am not sure what kind of deal Johnson wants, but I believe the Blues are looking for a one or two year deal. This would be a mistake in my opinion because in only two seasons Johnson has improved dramatically on both sides of the puck. In his rookie year, Johnson put up good numbers for a rookie defensemen (5 goals, 28 assists, a plus-minus of -9, and 28 penalty minutes). Even though Johnson missed the entire 2008-2009 season with a knee injury, he still worked hard and came into last season with something to prove.
Johnson started off the season with a bang. In the first two months of the season, Johnson played in 25 games and recorded 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists) and was a plus 6 on the ice. Johnson struggled over the next two months and only recorded 7 points and was a minus 5 on the ice. Johnson looked like he would go into the Winter Olympics struggling, but right before the break Johnson scored 2 goals and 2 assists in 4 games. Johnson played great hockey in the Winter Olympics and helped Team USA win a Silver Medal. He returned from the break and finshed the final two months of the season recording 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) and a plus 1 on the ice. Johnson finished the season with 39 points (10 goals, 29 assists) and a plus 1 on the ice.
Even though Johnson finished the season with only 6 more points than his rookie year, he went from being a minus 9 to a plus 1 on the ice and increased his shots on goal by 81. This past season showed me that Erik Johnson is not only tightening up on the defensive side, but he is getting better looks on the point and taking more shots. I believe this season Johnson will be even better playing defense and will be a crucial part in running a Blues power play that finished 20th in the league last year. The Blues need to realize that Johnson will only get better and now is the time to sign him to a contract which is at least 5 years in length. The Blues need to save money with players like T.J. Oshie, Roman Polak, and Patrick Berglund becoming RFA and David Backes becoming UFA next year. If they sign Johnson to a one year deal, next offseason would crazy and there would be a chance the Blues could not retain the all the players they need to compete. The Blues organization needs to make sure that the contract they give Erik Johnson this year keeps him in the Note for a long time.