EL SEGUNDO, CA — On July 17, the Los Angeles Kings signed restricted free agent defenseman Jack Johnson to a two-year contract that is reportedly worth $2.85 million, averaging $1.425 million per season.
In 41 regular season games last season, the 6-1, 225-pound native of Indianapolis, Indiana, scored six goals and added five assists for eleven points after missing 41 games after suffering a torn labrum on October 13, 2008, an injury that required shoulder surgery.
In the 2007-08 season, Johnson scored three goals and added eight assists for eleven points with 76 penalty minutes in 74 regular season games. Johnson was named as the Kings’ Best Newcomer (Mark Bavis Memorial Award) and as the team’s Outstanding Defenseman that season.
In 120 career National Hockey League regular season games, all with the Kings, Johnson, 22, has scored nine goals and has added thirteen assists for 22 points with 140 penalty minutes.
Earlier this summer, Johnson once again represented the United States, this time in the 2009 World Championships, scoring five goals and contributing two assists for seven points. His five goals led all defensemen in the tournament. He was also invited to attend the 2009 US Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Orientation Camp, schedule for August 17-19 in Woodbridge, Illinois.
Johnson, who was acquired by the Kings along with defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for center Eric Belanger and defenseman Tim Gleason on September 29, 2006, was originally selected by Carolina in the first round (third overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
After all the reports of drama (and that is putting it mildly) between Johnson and the Kings that have surfaced since the end of the 2009-10 regular season, it seems that all of those reports, rumors—whatever you wish to call them—were either badly overblown, overly dramatized, or were wildly inaccurate. Maybe all of those apply here.
In any case, this is a solid deal for both parties. The Kings get a very low salary cap hit for the next two seasons while Johnson proves himself—he is not a proven commodity yet after missing half of his second season in the NHL last year and did not deserve a huge pay raise yet. He gets a short, two-year deal after which he will have played himself into or out of that big, fat contract he wants.
Indeed, Johnson should be very highly motivated over the next two seasons to prove his worth.
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