The Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly on the verge of making a move that their fans have been anticipating for a very long time.
Although there has been no official announcement on the part of the Pittsburgh Penguins, National Hockey League insider Frank Seravalli is reporting that the Penguins do plan to buyout veteran defenseman Jack Johnson at some point later in the day today. We are Monday October 5th at the time of this writing, which means that the Penguins will look to clear cap space before the 2020 National Hockey League Entry Draft, a move that could prove to be relevant if Jim Rutherford has any plans to make moves in or around that draft.
Jack Johnson's contract seemed questionable to both fans and pundits alike from the very moment it was signed back in 2018, with Jim Rutherford himself awarded the 5 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. No doubt this is one of the first things that Rutherford's critics will point to when questioning some of the moves made by the Penguins GM, and perhaps rightfully so.
Even though the Penguins will save money with this buyout, there will also be long term ramifications for the organization as a result of Rutherford's decision to give Johnson this deal as well as a result of his decision to buy him out. The first three years of the buyout will see the Penguins saving just under $2.1 million per season against the cap, with Johnson's buyout coming in at just over $1.16 million, but as is always the case contract buyouts do come with long term consequences, and the Penguins will be no exception.
Although Johnson's contract would have expired at the end of the 2022 - 2023 season, the cap hit from his buyout will extend far beyond that. For the three seasons that follow the Penguins will be hit with a cap hit of $916,667 for Johnson's buyout, that means they won't be free of this deal until the end of the 2025 - 2026 NHL season.
Update: Pierre LeBrun has made it official: