While the Kings were busy taking care of business on the ice against the Columbus Blue Jackets, they were also busy off the ice taking care of one of their cornerstone defensemen.
Tonight, the Kings announced they’ve signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a seven-year contract extension, a deal reportedly worth $30.5 million, good for a cap hit of about $4.3 million per season. Johnson was one of three potential restricted free agents the Kings would have to negotiate with after this season (Drew Doughty and Wayne Simmonds being the others). With this deal in place, GM Dean Lombardi is making his off-season a little less stressful.
Johnson over his Kings career has been a steady, young defenseman learning on the job. While he’s not putting up the Norris-worthy numbers that Doughty is, he’s still very good. Johnson was a member of the 2010 silver medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in Vancouver. Johnson has been one of the young superstars on the Kings roster along with Doughty and Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds. Getting Johnson taken care of for a mostly reasonable cost is a great move for Lombardi and the Kings.
Of course, you can debate whether or not Johnson is worth that much in general until you’re blue in the face. Looking at his career, Johnson’s plus/minus rating is abysmal -62 over 241 games. Granted, much of that time has come on non-playoff teams, but this season he’s a -5 overall with four goals and 27 assists. He’s on a pace to have a career-high points season but coming in with a positive plus/minus would be a first in his career. Being a contributor on the power play is great, but if he’s unable to help stop opponents at even strength, it detracts from his game in a very noticeable way. For now, however, getting Johnson locked up long term makes all the sense in the world for the young and up and coming Kings.
The Minnesota Wild hope to turn things around, yet facing the Dallas Stars certainly ratchets up the degree of difficulty.
On the other hand, sometimes that’s the best way to regain confidence: overcome an especially formidable obstacle.
Whether the Wild flounder or rebound, you can watch the action on NBCSN and stream it via the link below.
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Not surprisingly, Edmonton’s 8-1 loss to the Islanders on Sunday didn’t pass without consequences.
The Oilers announced this morning that defenseman Griffin Reinhart had been sent down to the AHL. Additionally, defenseman Justin Schultz is expected to be a healthy scratch tonight in New Jersey.
Reinhart was a team-worst minus-4 versus the Isles.
Schultz, whose name has been coming up in trade rumors…
…was a minus-2.
“He needs to watch a game and reflect on his play and what his impact is offensively and defensively,” coach Todd McLellan told reporters of the decision to sit Schultz against the Devils.
Darnell Nurse and Adam Clendening, scratches in Brooklyn, will replace Reinhart and Schultz in the lineup.
Kyle Turris was far from an accomplished NHLer when he requested a trade out of the Coyotes organization. In fact, when he was dealt to the Senators in 2011, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft had just 46 points in 137 NHL games.
Since then, Turris has emerged as Ottawa’s top center, with the promise of a big payday in the summer of 2018 when his current $17.5 million deal expires and he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
It’s for that very reason that he can understand Jonathan Drouin‘s position with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s tough,” Turris told the Tampa Bay Times. “Everyone has mixed feelings, and especially not being an established player. Then people are doubting that you’re doing the right thing, you really have to have confidence in yourself and your ability to do it.”
Though Turris, now 26, took a “lot of heat from the media…and people within the organization” and recalls the time after his trade request was made public as a “tough, tough go,” he believes the opportunity he received with the Sens “saved” him.
As we’ve written in the past, you don’t have to agree with how Drouin is handling things — maybe it ends up hurting him; he still has a lot to prove — but there have been young players who have chosen similar paths, and it’s worked out well for them.
Drouin, by the way, has 40 points in 89 NHL games.
Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds has taken exception to criticisms from Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, in the wake of Simmonds concussing Blueshirts captain Ryan McDonagh with a punch over the weekend.
“Vigneault can say whatever he wants. He’s the coach, that’s his opinion,” Simmonds said, per CSN Philly. “I don’t really care. I’m protecting myself; guy comes to cross check you in the head. I didn’t know what he expected. I had no intention of hurting him and I feel bad about that. That’s not what I want.
“I may play physical and I like to take the body. I fight occasionally. But by no means am I a dirty player, trying to run around and injure guys.”
Simmonds was tossed from Saturday’s game after punching McDonagh, but wasn’t suspended by the league. McDonagh missed New York’s next game — Monday’s 2-1 win over the Devils — and the lack of supplemental discipline incident irked Vigneault, who had words for both the officials and Simmonds.
“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said following the Flyers game, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences?”
At this point, it’s probably worth noting the Flyers and Rangers play each other on Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Worth circling that one on the ol’ calendar, methinks.