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Flyers re-sign Cup-winning D-man who they acquired at trade deadline

Johnson played 17 games for the Flyers last season after they acquired him from the Sabres

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Erik Johnson, a defenseman with nearly 1,000 career games under his belt, raved about the Flyers' locker room after joining the team in March as a trade deadline pickup.

He'll be a part of it again, this time from the start, as the Flyers re-signed the 36-year-old veteran to a one-year, $1 million contract Monday.

The Flyers gave up a 2024 fourth-round draft pick for Johnson to provide stability on the back end last season. The club's defensive depth was decimated down the stretch by injuries and the trade of Sean Walker.

Johnson will give the Flyers a reliable presence in 2024-25 and a good example for their younger blueliners. He has played in 987 career NHL games and won the 2022 Stanley Cup with the Avalanche.

"We're very happy to bring Erik back for next season," Flyers general manager Danny Briere said in a statement released by the team. "Since arriving at the deadline, Erik has fit seamlessly into our locker room and logged important minutes for us. His presence and championship experience, especially for our defensive core of players, will be valuable for our team throughout an entire season."

In 17 games with the Flyers, Johnson had two goals, an assist, 50 hits, 29 blocked shots and a minus-9 rating. The 2006 first overall pick had high praise for the Flyers' locker room.

"I didn't know anybody on the team, so it was all new to me," Johnson said March 26 before a game at Madison Square Garden. "But it didn't take long to see that these guys care about winning and care about each other. If you have those two things, you can do a lot of great things as a team. It has been a lot of fun coming to the rink every day.

"It stands out because I think it's pretty unique. I haven't been in a lot of ones that have been this good. I just think there's a time and place to have fun and there's a time and place to focus, and I think this team has a really good balance of that. I think they definitely care about each other a lot."

He'll be the oldest and most established player on a team that has the potential to take another step but will not lose focus of its rebuild. As of right now, the Flyers' defensive group is looking like it will be Johnson, Travis Sanheim, Cam York, Nick Seeler, Jamie Drysdale, Egor Zamula and Rasmus Ristolainen. Ronnie Attard, Adam Ginning and Emil Andrae should be pushing for games, too.

York, Drysdale and Zamula are 24 years old or younger. Briere clearly values Johnson's influence on them.

"His leadership in the room was amazing," the Flyers' GM said Monday. "He was fantastic, some of the players loved him, the coaches all loved him. It's intangibles that he brings. Look, at the end of the day, he's also a 6-foot-4, right-shot defenseman. He's not going to be in the way, slowing the growth of our young guys. He's there to help them grow, that's the way we see it."

Briere has a good read on the defenseman. They were teammates on the Avalanche in 2014-15, Briere's final NHL season.

"We had a really good relationship in Colorado," Johnson said. "He was only there the one year and I was in my mid-20s. I remember really looking up to him and respecting him a ton, and still did. We kept in touch over the years since he retired. If we didn't have that good relationship, maybe I'm not here right now, I don't know. But I know we each had a mutual respect for each other.

"When he was in Colorado, everyone looked up to him and he always had very good words of wisdom to tell our younger team. Things kind of have come full circle and now I'm kind of in that role that he was, towards the end of my career. It's kind of funny how it all works out because Danny and I remain close and now we can have a chance to do something special together."

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