The Colorado Avalanche already may end up losing a good young defenseman, but it would have been even worse if they were forced to protect Erik Johnson. According to Peter Baugh of The Athletic, the veteran has officially waived his no-movement clause and will not require protection.
That does not mean that Johnson is exempt from selection, rather the opposite, but his high price tag of $6MM per season and his unclear injury situation will likely keep him away from Seattle. More specifically, the Avalanche will still likely have to expose a defenseman like Ryan Graves, who seems to be a much more appetizing selection given his relative youth and strong playoff performance. There is obviously still time to change things in order to protect Graves as well, but at least when it comes to expansion, the team won’t have to worry about Johnson’s NMC any longer.
Johnson, 33, played just four games this season and was held out most of the year with concussion symptoms. He was back skating with the team in the playoffs but never played, and it is now unclear where his future lies. If he’s unable to play again next season, that $6MM cap hit could be moved to long-term injured reserve, giving the Avalanche quite a bit more flexibility. There is also the possibility of a buyout, but the Avalanche would need to show that Johnson is healthy enough to continue playing, as injured players are ineligible.