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NHL Free Agency 2012: Where the Colorado Avalanche Stand

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 14: Erik Johnson #6 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center on March 14, 2012 in Buffalo, New York. The Avalanche defeated the Sabres 5-4 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Joey SuyeishiCorrespondent IIJuly 4, 2012

Yesterday, the Colorado Avalanche locked up the guy who they hoped would be their cornerstone defenseman for years to come.

According to the Mike Chambers of The Denver Post, Erik Johnson, the somewhat controversial former No. 1 overall pick, re-upped with Colorado for four years at $15 million.

This is a good deal for both EJ and the Avs.  

Johnson gets stability, and $3.75 million per year is not a terrible amount of money. It also should leave Johnson wanting more.  

Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson and most recently Ryan Suter have all proven themselves to be elite defensemen and are now being paid as such.  EJ will certainly aspire for their type of money on his next deal.

If he has a few years with All-Star appearances and maybe even a Norris nod or two, it could certainly happen.

With EJ under contract, the Avs' biggest unsigned and restricted free agent is last season's top scorer, Ryan O'Reilly.  Not to worry, Avalanche fans, Factor is not going anywhere.

My guess is that Sherman and co. want to sign O'Reilly to a deal similar to the one that Duchene just received: two to three years at about $3 million per year.  This would be ideal because like Duchene, O'Reilly would stay restricted after his next deal.

After his breakout season last year in which he increased his point production from 26 points to 55 points, his camp may be looking for a longer term, higher money payday.

The Avs have to be wary of a long-term deal for O'Reilly at this stage.

You don't want to pay him long term like a 60-plus point player if he turns out to be a 40- to 50-point player. Paul Stastny was given a hefty long-term deal early on and has yet to fully live up to its dollar amount. Regardless, a deal will get done.

Jamie McGinn has yet to re-sign as well. My guess is that he gets a deal similar to Steve Downie's: two years in the ballpark of $5 million.

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