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Flyers Willing to Bring Erik Johnson Back Next Season

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Flyers defenseman Erik Johnson won the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2022. (Photo: AP)

According to a report from Kevin Kurz of The Athletic, the Philadelphia Flyers appear willing to bring back veteran defenseman Erik Johnson for another season.

Johnson, 36, was acquired by the Flyers in an NHL trade deadline deal with the Buffalo Sabres, making Philadelphia his third different home in two seasons.

Listing things he’s heard as the Flyers prepare for their offseason, Kurz says the Flyers “have not closed the door” on Johnson’s return, which lines up with their general philosophy of the past year or so. Further to that point, the Flyers only have five defensemen under contract for next season.

Flyers general manager Danny Briere already named Marc Staal as “one of the obvious” players who will be leaving the organization this summer, so Staal is crossed off the list. Egor Zamula, in all likelihood, will receive a qualifying offer and remain with the team for at least one more year.

That leaves Johnson, among the Flyers’ defensemen at the NHL level, as the last man standing. Johnson has already conceded that he isn’t the player he once was during his glory days in Colorado, but even at 36 years old found a way to contribute to a young Flyers team.

Head coach John Tortorella frequently paired Johnson and Zamula together, and the two found chemistry both on and off the ice. As long as Rasmus Ristolainen doesn’t experience any setbacks in his recovery from surgery that repaired a torn triceps tendon, Johnson doesn’t figure to play as much for the Flyers as he did after arriving in March.

Should Johnson continue his career playing in the NHL, the Flyers will assuredly have a place for him. The team still needs a veteran defenseman who is liked and well-respected in the locker room, and the former Stanley Cup champion is exactly that.

Briere was also once teammates with Johnson in Colorado, so if anybody knows what Johnson can still give to the Flyers, it’s Briere.

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