Some late breaking news came down on Tuesday evening.
According to reports from Peter Baugh and Scott Powers of The Athletic, the Chicago Blackhawks will be signing veteran defenseman Jack Johnson to a one-year contract.
The Blackhawks are signing defenseman Jack Johnson to a one-year deal, sources tell me and @Peter_Baugh. https://t.co/6nvbwHpNtS— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) August 17, 2022
A few minutes after that initial report, Charlie Roumeliotis from NBC Sports Chicago chimed in with the salary cap figure:
#Blackhawks are signing veteran defenseman Jack Johnson to a one-year contract.— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) August 17, 2022
His cap hit will be $950,000, according to a source.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, the Blackhawks confirmed the signing and the reported salary cap hit:
Everyone say hi Jack pic.twitter.com/jAN4Hfnkof— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) August 17, 2022
Johnson, 35, is coming off a bit of a storybook season after joining the Colorado Avalanche for the 2021-22 season and ending it with the first Stanley Cup of his lengthy NHL career.
It’s impossible to quantify happiness, but I’d bet Jack Johnson was among the happiest of the very happy Avalanche players on the ice after the Cup win. He started the year on a professional tryout agreement and ended it hoisting the Cup. pic.twitter.com/Gq6GqQClL0— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) August 17, 2022
Considering all of the things Johnson had endured away from the ice, it shouldn’t have been all that difficult to locate some measure of relief to see Johnson get his moment with the Stanley Cup.
A veteran of 1.024 NHL games across 16 seasons, Johnson initially came to the NHL as the No. 3 overall pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2005 NHL Draft. But the Indianapolis native was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 2006 and debuted with the Kings in the 2007-08 season. He’s also played for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers before spending last season with the Avalanche.
By virtually any measure, Johnson’s play has been subpar in the last few seasons, though. For one of those measures, here’s his player card from @JFreshHockey on Twitter:
Jack Johnson, signed 1 year by CHI, is a Stanley Cup champion. Are you? pic.twitter.com/7AcxWpJY0z— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) August 17, 2022
Johnson’s signing is obviously a placeholder for the next season and his hockey future — if there is one beyond 2022-23 for Johnson — won’t be in Chicago. But add yet another veteran blue-liner to a D corps that already has Seth Jones, Jake McCabe, Riley Stillman, Caleb Jones and Connor Murphy in it for next season and it’s hard to see where any of the Blackhawks’ younger defensemen fit at the NHL level.
So the Blackhawks’ core of D prospects who have some gained some NHL experience in the last few seasons — Alex Vlasic, Alec Regula, Ian Mitchell, Isaak Phillips, Jakub Galvas, Nicolas Beaudin, etc. — should probably expect to spend a healthy chunk of the next hockey season in Rockford because there doesn’t appear to be much room for them in Chicago.