NHL Free Agency 2020: Rangers sign Jack Johnson

Yes, but why?

Former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson is a New York Ranger. Per Darren Dreger, Johnson has signed with the Rangers for one year. He was bought out by the Penguins on Oct. 5 after signing a five-year, $16.25 million contract with the team on July 1, 2018.

Johnson had three goals and eight assists in 67 games with the Penguins in 2019-20. He has failed to crack 15 points from the blue line in each of his last three seasons, which is noteworthy because many consider(ed) him to be an offensive defenseman. His underlying numbers are, in a word, catastrophic and have been for quite some time.

This appears to be the Rangers’ answer to fill the void on the left side of the third pair — Johnson is left-handed. The bright side here is that he’s only signed for one year, but what exactly the Rangers are hoping to get out of him beyond what Dreger summarized as “character...etc” is hard to see.

Both CapFriendly.com and Larry Brooks reported the value of the contract at $1.15 million, which leaves the Rangers with plenty of breathing room to sort out their restricted free agents. Johnson played under new Rangers assistant coach Jacques Martin in Pittsburgh and has a connection with Rangers President John Davidson, who was the President of Hockey Operations in Columbus while Johnson was a Blue Jacket.

We expect to have further analysis of this move in the near future, so keep an eye out for it.