Reports late on Tuesday night are that the Chicago Blackhawks are adding… another veteran defenseman to the roster. On Wednesday morning the deal became official: Jack Johnson is coming to Chicago.
Johnson, the third overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft who is coming off a Stanley Cup championship with the Colorado Avalanche, has signed a one-year, $950,000 deal with the Blackhawks.
“Jack provides the team with a strong veteran presence, good size and a competitive edge,” Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said. “We’re excited to have Jack join the organization and, coming off a Stanley Cup championship last year, he will strengthen our defensive group.”
Johnson, 35, will join a crowded blue line in Chicago and now raises questions about whether or not a younger defenseman (read: Ian Mitchell) will get a full shot at the NHL lineup. He appeared in 74 regular season games for the Avalanche this past season and skated in Colorado’s final 13 postseason contests after Samuel Girard was lost to an injury. Johnson averaged around 11 minutes per game in the playoffs.
What are the Blackhawks getting in Johnson?
Yeah, that’s a filler player who wants a role on an NHL team that is willing to pay him.
Johnson spent the first six seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Kings before LA traded him to Columbus in the deal that brought Jeff Carter to the the Kings in 2012.
Peter Baugh at The Athletic wrote a terrific profile on Johnson this past season as he skated in his 1,000th career game in which he reminded us that, while in Columbus, Johnson dealt with some awful financial issues. He declared bankruptcy in 2014 after his parents spent millions of his dollars and left him millions in debt.
He has spent the past four years with Pittsburgh (two), the Rangers and Avalanche.
So what does this mean for players like Mitchell, Alec Regula and others who hoped to get some run with the Blackhawks this season? Chicago will have six veteran defenseman under contract (including Johnson), but that shouldn’t keep Mitchell or someone else from getting a long look in training camp or breaking camp with the NHL club. At $950,000 this deal has a small enough cap hit that the Blackhawks can afford to carry seven defensemen all year.
But it also certainly opens the door for more moves as training camp opens and we get closer to the regular season.