We wondered why it took so long for the Pittsburgh Penguins to buy out defenseman Jack Johnson. General manager Jim Rutherford even made it sound like the blue liner was set to stay in Pittsburgh, refusing to acknowledged he looked terrible during the Pens’ qualifying round series against the Montreal Canadiens.
Johnson’s contract seemed questionable to both fans and pundits alike from the very moment it was signed back in 2018, with Rutherford himself awarded the five-year, $16.25 million deal to the defenseman. That brought Johnson in at an average annual value of $3.25 million, a cap hit that would have run through the 2022 - 2023 regular season had he remained on the roster.
We want to say that we almost forgot about the guy once he was bought out, but now it sounds like he is back in business. Or close anyway.
Penguins insider Josh Yohe of The Athletic is now reporting that Jackson has been linked to the New York Rangers, who’ve shown interest for the 33-year-old. Johnson would be linked back to assistant coach Jacques Martin who was fired in Pittsburgh this summer and ended up in NYC. He has also a relationship with John Davidson from their days in Columbus with the Blue Jackets.
Darren Dreger of TSN is reporting that the deal should be for one year at an annual salary of $1 million.
Fans are laughing out loud at this news, but the Blue Shirts could manage to sign him to a very affordable contract seeing how Johnson’s statistics have been looking lately.
We’re sure Johnson tried everything he could to play hard for the Penguins and surely deserves a shot elsewhere. When Rutherford finally bought out Johnson’s deal, this is what he had to say about the player:
“Here’s my summary of this situation,” a terse Rutherford said. “Maybe Jack Johnson isn’t as good as I think he is. Maybe. But he’s not as bad as all of the anti- Jack Johnson people think he is. I’ll tell you what he is: He’s a solid, third-pairing defenseman if he’s playing with the right guy. He’s a player that I happen to really like and I think he’s a better player than a lot of people want to give him credit for.”
And maybe that’s what the Rangers hope to get if.