Best Of 2008

Best Blues Player: Erik Johnson

St. Louis Blues general manager Larry Pleau and coach Andy Murray have made no secret of their plans for the down-at-the-heels franchise. "Build from within" has become their mantra as they hungrily stock up on fresh young hockey studs-to-be like David Perron, Lars Eller, Jake Allen and T.J. Oshie — none of whom is even old enough to legally purchase an A-B InBev product — and Erik Johnson is quickly proving himself to be the leader of this hockey brat pack. The 2007-08 season was Johnson's first in the NHL, and although he only played in 69 of 82 games, he managed to score 5 goals (more than any other defenseman on the team) and rack up 28 assists. With his lanky six-foot-four-inch frame and golden-boy looks, the twenty-year-old defenseman bears a reassuring resemblance to erstwhile star Chris Pronger. That, his solid rookie year performance and his close relationship with friend and mentor Al MacInnis help to remind flagging fans of happier times while enticing us with promises of a younger, better (dare we say Stanley Cup-contending?) hockey team. Meanwhile, get set for another year or two of growing pains.

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