The Penguins plan to sign veteran defenseman Jack Johnson to a five-year contract when free agency opens Sunday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette and 105.9 The X radio station in Pittsburgh. The deal will reportedly have an annual cap hit in the $3-3.5 million range.
“Things can obviously change between now and then, but there appears to be plenty of confidence that Johnson will come here for myriad reasons — and finances aren’t expected to get in the way,” the Post-Gazzette writes.
Johnson, 31, recorded three goals and eight assists in 77 games with the Blue Jackets last season. He set a career-low for average time on ice (19:33) and posted his lowest point total since 2008-09, when he was a 22-year-old who played in just 41 games.
None of that will apparently stop the Penguins from giving him a significant commitment in the form of a five-year deal. The team recently traded forward Conor Sheary and defenseman Matt Hunwick to the Sabres to clear cap space. Assuming the contract doesn’t fall through, a portion of that will go to Johnson, who could be the No. 4 or No. 5 defenseman in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins currently have blue liners Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta and Brian Dumoulin set to make over $4 million next season.