While defensemen have been receiving big deals in the last week or two, one deal that caught many by surprise was the five-year, $16.25MM deal that Jack Johnson signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins signed on July 1. While Johnson was a highly-touted prospect at one time and developed into a solid NHL veteran, the five-year term seemed like a lot considering that the 31-year-old had lost his job at the end of the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and instead took up a role as a healthy scratch for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. Johnson finished the year posting
Regardless, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford had coaches’ Mike Sullivan and Sergei Gonchar look into the three games leading up to Johnson’s benching and they walked away with a positive impression and the team signed the veteran.
The Athletic’s Jesse Marshall (subscription required) took a look at the three games before Johnson was benched and analyzes and breaks down the veteran’s play, citing that his performance was solid, but underwhelming and while the defenseman did have some bad luck at times, what stood out the most was his lack of involvement in the team’s offense as he seems to only have been focusing on his defensive game, which might be exactly what Rutherford and the Penguins want out of Johnson.
- Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that the Philadelphia Flyers’ signing of Christian Folin almost guarantees that defensive prospect Philippe Myers will begin the season with the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The 21-year-old undrafted free agent had a solid rookie season with the Phantoms last season and was expected to get a “long look” in Flyers training camp in September. However, with six quality NHL established defenseman already on the roster (not counting the injured Samuel Morin), Myers would have to beat one of them out to make the team. General manager Ron Hextall wouldn’t allow Myers to make the team as the team’s seventh defenseman when he could return to Lehigh Valley and get valuable playing experience. So, while many were upset that the team went out and signed Folin, it’s likely that Folin will man that extra defenseman role instead.
- The New York Rangers have been talked about as a potential third-team in any deal involving Erik Karlsson. The team has $23.7MM in cap room to work with and with the team in a quick rebuild, this would be the perfect time to add more picks or prospects to that effort. While the team might be open to acquiring Ryan Callahan from Tampa Bay, The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello (subscription required) writes that the team will not take on the contract of veteran Bobby Ryan, who still has four years at $7.25MM remaining on his deal. He writes that the Rangers don’t believe they will still be rebuilding in three or four years and being burdened by that deal down the road wouldn’t make any sense.