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.