Norsemen See Big Future for #1 Pick

by Matt MacInnis | September 23, 2006, 10:12 AM ET
After making a huge splash the night before the draft to acquire the top pick in the annual tradition, the Vancouver Island Norsemen used the top pick to select highly-touted defenceman Erik Johnson. The hulking native of Bloomington, Minnesota has been considered the top pick in the draft since the 2005 World Juniors in Vancouver, shooting up the depth chart past fellow American Phil Kessel and several big Canadian forwards. “We had to have Erik Johnson,” said MacInnis. “I had the opportunity to see him play against the best in the world and talk with him a couple of times and there is absolutely no question in my mind EJ is going to be a mega-star. I have no reservations in saying he is the best defensive prospect I have seen in the past decade, bar none. He’s a monster and a half.” Standing in at an imposing 6’4, 225 lbs, Johnson is expected to play as a freshman in college with the University of Minnesota next season. But the team is willing to wait for the guy they expect to be a perennial top defenceman in the league. “EJ is the real deal, no question in my mind. It was tough to give up Patty O, who we think is a star in his own right, but it’s a lot easier to find high scoring undersized centres than it is to find dominating #1 defencemen, and that was what it came down to for us,” admitted MacInnis. “I’m very excited to be playing in Victoria,” said Johnson immediately after hearing his name called. “I had the opportunity to play here a little bit before the World Juniors during the pre-tourney camp we had, and I really love the city.”

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