The Pittsburgh Penguins have placed Jack Johnson on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a contract buyout. Johnson has three years remaining on his contract, meaning a buyout will carry through the 2025-26 season. The full cap hits will be as follows:
- 2020-21: $1,166,667
- 2021-22: $1,166,667
- 2022-23: $1,916,667
- 2023-24: $916,667
- 2024-25: $916,667
- 2025-26: $916,667
Quite frankly, this contract was a disaster from the very first day it was signed. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford signed Johnson to a five-year contract on July 1, 2018 despite the veteran defenseman’s recent struggles with the Columbus Blue Jackets. When it was pointed out that Johnson had even been made a healthy scratch by the Blue Jackets, Rutherford told reporters:
I don’t think he had a bad year. He was a healthy scratch at the end of the season. I know the reason why. It wasn’t because of how he was playing.
That comment got an explosive response from Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, who said Rutherford must be a “(expletive) magician” for having insight into the team’s decision making from “three hours away.” Unfortunately, it appears as though the Penguins have come to the same conclusion the Blue Jackets did.
Johnson, 33, recorded some of the worst possession metrics in the NHL during his time in Pittsburgh, struggling at both ends of the rink. In 149 games with the Penguins he recorded 24 points while averaging more than 19 minutes a night, adding zero in the seven postseason games he was included in. A third-overall pick in 2005, when Johnson’s offensive output declined his effectiveness went with it, to the point where it will be interesting to see if he even receives a new NHL contract.
Of course, he’ll be making money even if he doesn’t sign a new deal thanks to this buyout. The Penguins do save a little more than $2MM in cap space for each of the next two seasons (and about $1.3MM in 2022-23) but will have to carry a penalty for three extra seasons thanks to the unfortunate contract.