The Pittsburgh Penguins have placed defenseman Jack Johnson on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract.
Johnson, 33, had three seasons remaining on a five-year deal he signed in 2018 that carried an average annual value of $3.25 million.
ESPN reports that the main reasons for the buyout are due to the NHL salary cap staying flat at $81.5 million and because GM Jim Rutherford couldn’t find a trade partner willing to take on Johnson’s salary.
Johnson Struggled As a Penguin
In two seasons with the Penguins, Johnson was oft-criticized by a large portion of the Penguin’s fan base for his lack of speed and offensive capability and his consistently subpar advanced stats.
In 67 games for the Penguins in 2019-20, Johnson averaged 19:28 per game and recorded scored three goals and eight assists for 11 points while posting a negative-1 plus/minus rating. He played 149 games in his two seasons in Pittsburgh overall.
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A veteran of 14 NHL seasons, Johnson has suited up for 937-career games for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings, and Penguins. He was originally selected by the Carolina Hurricanes third overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft behind Sidney Crosby and Bobby Ryan.
Penguins’ Retool Continues
Rutherford has been a mover and shaker recently as he attempts to right his team’s path. The Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 but have fallen in the first round of the playoffs in the past two seasons and were most recently upset by the underdog Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Qualifying round in August.
The Pens also recently traded Nick Bjugstad to the Minnesota Wild and Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Mike Matheson.