Defenseman Jack Johnson agrees to professional tryout contract

Can Johnson elevate his game in the Rocky Mountains?


It hasn't been the smoothest of sailing for NHL veteran defenseman Jack Johnson

A former University of Michigan standout, Johnson enjoyed a productive early career in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings and continued when he was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Jeff Carter trade. But in recent years, he's endured plenty of criticism from fans and pundits alike as his play hasn't matched the hype of when he entered the League. 

After his release from his bloated five year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Johnson played the 2020-21 season with the New York Rangers. He scored one goal with five assists in 13 games played before his season ended thanks to needing surgery to repair a core muscle. 

And now, he's found himself yet more new surroundings. 

The Colorado Avalanche have signed Johnson to a professional try-out: 

The Avs already have no shortage of left-handed defensemen, including the likes of Sam Girard, Bo Byram, Devon Toews, Ryan Murray, Dennis Gilbert, and Jacob MacDonald. Whether or not Johnson will be able to make the team and continue his career remains to be seen. 

Johnson, who was released by the Penguins in October of 2020, found himself an ally in former Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who defended the player he signed and stated that he was never fairly given a chance. 

"He has never been given a chance here right from the start,” Rutherford said in February 2019. “I don’t understand it. It’s been extremely unfair to him. Extremely. He’s a good player. I think he’s doing fine. I think he’s doing perfectly fine.”

In 950 career NHL games, Johnson has tallied 71 goals with 232 assists, but his most telling stat is his ghastly minus-119 rating.