The five-year, $16.25MM contract that the Penguins gave defenseman Jack Johnson last summer drew some immediate ire. Considering that the team is still tight against the cap even after dealing away Olli Maatta over the weekend, some may be wondering if Johnson could also be on the move at some point. GM Jim Rutherford poured cold water over that idea, telling Matt Vensel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Maatta swap means that Johnson will be sticking around:
“We certainly had to make a move from a cap point of view. … We were getting ourselves to a point where we might have been in a little trouble. It was going to be either Johnson or Maatta to open up the necessary cap space and open up the logjam at defense. And as it turned out, it ended up being Olli.”
The 32-year-old logged over 19 minutes a game for the Penguins last season although his offensive output continued to drop as he scored just a single goal. It appears as if Johnson will be resuming his role on their back end when the puck drops on next season in October.
Elsewhere in the East:
- While Bruins forward David Backes has been brought up as a speculative candidate to leave Boston, it doesn’t appear as if that will be the case. Speaking with reporters including Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link), GM Don Sweeney stated that Backes will not be going anywhere this offseason. The 35-year-old has two years remaining on his deal with a $6MM cap hit and a partial no-trade clause but because of the structure of the contract, a buyout wouldn’t save Boston much on the cap. Instead, it appears they’ll ask him to hold down a spot in their bottom six once again next season.
- Lightning free agent defenseman Anton Stralman will be participating in the UFA interview window which begins next week, agent Marc Levine told Joe Smith of The Athletic (Twitter link). That suggests that there hasn’t been much progress made in discussions about a possible contract extension. Stralman, 32, is coming off an injury-plagued 2018-19 campaign but still logged over 20 minutes a night and with the market for right-shot defenders dwindling quickly, he should have plenty of suitors if he does indeed make it to the open market next month.