Five free agents the Tampa Bay Lightning should avoid

Mar 23, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Gustav Nyquist (14) looks on in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Gustav Nyquist (14) looks on in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tampa Bay Lightning
Jan 18, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson (6) skates against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Free agents for the Tampa Bay Lightning to avoid: Erik Johnson

  • 2022-23 season – 8 points in 63 games played
  • 2023-24 projected salary – $964,000

While Tampa doesn’t technically have to go out and sign a defenseman, as they have eight under contract, and that’s not counting Ian Cole, one of the key critiques is that Tampa didn’t upgrade along the blue line at the trade deadline.

So if Erik Johnson can be acquired for just $964,000 it might seem like a tempting bargin.

But at 35 years old, he is not the same player he was in 2015 when he signed a seven-year, $42 million deal with Colorado.

He is a bit more offensive-minded than, say, Erik Cernak, with 92 shots taken last year that reached the net, and at 78 blocked shots during 5 v 5 play in 63 games last season, he is a better shot blocker than Nick Perbix.

But a lot of his other metrics seem to fall in line with what Tampa Bay is already getting from Zach Bogosian, just without the physicality. At 104 hits last season, Johnson is only slightly more physical than Mikhail Sergachev and Ian Cole. And Bolts fans wouldn’t classify either of those two as super physical guys last year.

He also missed a month last season due to a foot injury and missed almost all of the 2021 season with an injury.