Penguins trade rumors: Jack Johnson

Jamie Sabau

The Trib's Rob Rossi noticed that Columbus' management team was in Pittsburgh last night and suggested the Pens may be interested in acquiring defenseman Jack Johnson. This would not be a good idea.

Oh no, oh God no. According to the visions in Rob Rossi's head, the Pittsburgh Penguins may be interested in trading for Columbus Blue Jacket defenseman Jack Johnson.

Simon Despres, 21, is available – and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ three senior members of hockey operations attended the Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Consol Energy Center on Monday night.

New general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, his assistant Chris MacFarland, and senior advisor Craig Patrick – who preceded Ray Shero as Penguins general manager – watched the game from the media level.

Patrick, who still lives in suburban Pittsburgh, often attends Penguins games and sits in the stands, but he is rarely in the media area.

The Penguins are seeking to bolster their defense, preferably with a player under contract who could serve as either a long-term partner for Kris Letang or possible insurance if Letang is traded before his contract expires in July 2014.

Shero has said he hopes to reach contract extensions with Letang, 25, and center Evgeni Malkin, 26, this summer. Both will play under the final year of their current deals next season.

Letang, though, is viewed by some team officials as perhaps the more difficult player to sign because he projects to nearly double his current $3.5 million salary-cap hit.

Letang leads all NHL defensemen with 21 points. He has recorded six assists in the last two games, both Penguins’ wins.

This past summer, while pursing free-agent defenseman Ryan Suter, the Penguins envisioned paring Letang with an elite partner.

Jack Johnson, 26, could potentially fit that description.

He was the third overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and is a longtime friend of Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

This is just bad all around. Jack Johnson may be friends with Sidney Crosby, but so was Zach Parise and how'd that turn out?

Also, acquiring Johnson at $4.35 million cap hit for the next four seasons is in no way going to HELP the Penguins keep Kris Letang, and if they were to sub Letang out for Johnson, oh good lord. I can't even imagine.

Plenty has been written about Johnson. Like here where hockeyanalysis.com said:

Jack Johnson is a major drag on his team, especially defensively, but offensively as well. The only redeeming quality of Jack Johnson on the ice is that he seems to be a good PP specialist. I have often called Jack Johnson the $4.3M/yr version of Marc-Andre Bergeron but that might be unfair to Bergeron. Getting rid of Johnson is addition by subtraction plus you are getting Jeff Carter for a mere first round pick which is a steal.

Here's another from Copper n Blue:

He has an awful habit of getting caught in no-man's land on a consistent basis -- if Johnson lived on the Korean Peninsula, he would wander into the DMZ three or four times per day. It's not that he makes mistakes in his own zone, it's that he surprises everyone when he shows up in the right place. The Sharks took advantage of Johnson's play and buried him at even strength. The scoring chances do not paint a pretty picture.

Yeah, it's not pretty. Rossi is absolutely wrong when he characterizes Johnson as an "elite partner" for Letang and it's even worse when he says Johnson would be "insurance" for Letang potentially leaving.

Jack Johnson is all reputation, and would not help the Penguins on the ice, and off the ice his contract would almost certainly mean that either Letang or Evgeni Malkin could not be re-signed in Pittsburgh. (And it won't be Malkin going). Acquiring Johnson would not be a good thing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, regardless of what they send back to Columbus. Sending a 21 year old defenseman in Despres who's showing he's NHL capable would be a terrible idea.

Let's hope this rumor is just that.

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