Report: Pens to Sign Defenseman Jack Johnson

Ex-Columbus blueliner coming off worst season

Josh Rowntree
June 27, 2018 - 4:06 pm
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) in the handshake line after game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS ARENA.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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The Penguins are on the verge of signing veteran defenseman Jack Johnson to a long-term contract, this according to Jason Mackey of the Post-Gazette

The deal, Mackey reports, is for five years and will be in the vicinity of $16 million total, with an average anual value between $3.0-3.5 million. The deal can become official when free agency officially opens on July 1. 

Johnson, 31, is coming off arguably his worst season as a pro, scoring just three goals and adding eight assists for Columbus. He was a healthy scratch in all six of the Blue Jackets’ playoff games against Washington. 

In his career, Johnson has 66 goals and 212 assists. 

Earlier Wednesday, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford alluded to being in the market for a defenseman. 

“Our priority in this offseason was to add another defenseman,” Rutherford said. "I talked about getting balance through the lineup. I think we have that with out forwards and if we can add another defenseman, I’d be pretty happy going into opening night.”

Johnson is a close friend of Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. The two played together growing up at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota and were drafted in the first round of the 2005 NHL Draft. 

The Penguins were able to free up $5.25 million in cap space Wednesday by trading winger Conor Sheary and defenseman Matt Hunwick to Buffalo for a conditional fourth-round draft pick.