An Erik Johnson trade “makes a lot of sense”, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. On his 32 Thoughts podcast released Friday, Friedman mentions that he’s “started to hear [Johnson’s] name a little bit.”
When the Buffalo Sabres signed Johnson to a one-year, $3.25 million deal this offseason, there were visions of having a steadying presence on the blueline potentially helping a Sabres playoff run. With Buffalo currently third-last in the Eastern Conference, those visions are starting to fade.
“I’ve just had some people say, watch this one,” Friedman continued, “there’s going to be interest in Erik Johnson. I think this is a name to watch.”
Return on Investment
As far as what another team might pay the Sabres for Johnson’s services, Friedman states, “the Sabres are going to have some options here.”
A Stanley Cup winning, right-handed defenseman always seems to have some value, especially one with a former first-overall draft pedigree. Johnson brings with him all three of those traits, which surely makes him in demand.
Luke Schenn is an aging, former fifth-overall right-handed defenseman who contributed to a Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning team. He fetched a third-round pick at last year’s trade deadline.
Schenn’s cap hit was a lot cheaper, of course, so there may need to be some salary maneuvering to warrant a similar return on Johnson.
In terms of a trade partner, Friedman also added that Johnson, “probably wants to go somewhere for the Stanley Cup this year.”
That narrows down the potential destinations for an Erik Johnson trade, of course, but it only takes two teams to desire a player to drive up the asking price.
The Sabres won’t likely be in a rush to move the veteran defenseman, as they’re currently riding a solid run in January. The team’s bye week is only two days away, and they don’t play again until after the NHL All-Star break.
The NHL trade deadline is Friday, March 8th, which is six weeks away.
Johnson is currently on injured reserve, but close to return to action as he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He has three goals and no assists in 41 games with the Sabres this season.