NHL free agency does not officially begin until Sunday but the interview period for teams and players is open and some news surfaced involving the Penguins and potential free agent defenseman Jack Johnson.
.@MarkMaddenX first reported that the Penguins intend to sign defenseman Jack Johnson Sunday to a five-year deal. Confirming that. Source says it will be in the $16 million range total (between $3-$3.5 million AAV).— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) June 27, 2018
Penguins’ interest in signing Johnson first bubbled up a couple weeks ago but those type of rumors always come up this time of year. General manager Jim Rutherford was not exactly coy about wanting to add to the blue line this offseason and he put that process in motion this morning by trading Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick to the Buffalo Sabres, freeing up over $5 million in cap space.
The reported deal for Johnson is for five years at between $3-$3.5 million annually, leaving the Penguins with approximately $7 million in cap space if they deal is signed, space for new contracts for Jamie Oleksiak, Riley Sheahan, and any other targets the Pens may have in mind.
On the Jack Johnson stuff: This isn't official. Nothing's done. Stuff can change. If someone offered Johnson $15 million per season, he ain't playing here. What exists is a general sense of confidence that something will get done, and it will come out around the reported numbers.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) June 27, 2018
This is of course just a report and nothing is official and there have been no reports from national hockey media about the situation.
A deal cannot be signed until Sunday at 12PM when NHL free agency opens. Until then, it’s a waiting game to see if these reports carry any weight, are simply rumors, or just serve as a smokescreen for something else the Penguins may have up their sleeve.