Top pick Johnson chooses Minnesota over NHL

Updated: July 7, 2006, 7:54 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Erik Johnson, who was the top overall pick in last month's NHL draft, announced he will attend the University of Minnesota this fall.

Johnson and his family said Friday that the 18-year-old will enroll in the university rather than joining the St. Louis Blues for the upcoming season.

"We feel this is a win-win situation for Erik to be going to an excellent hockey program to continue his development," Blues president John Davidson said. "This is beneficial for his career, short term and long term, to play for the Gophers. He will have an opportunity to compete for an NCAA national championship, play in the World Junior Championships and enjoy university life."

The Blues retain their rights to Johnson and were part of the discussions as he made his decision.

Johnson is a defenseman who spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National development team. He grew up in Bloomington and attended Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield.

He was just the fifth American to be chosen first overall in the draft.

Information from the Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.

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