Courtesy of Point Park University

The 2019-20 prospectus: Jack Johnson


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Jack Johnson. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

This is the 12th installment in a series of profiles of members of the Penguins' major-league roster, as listed alphabetically on the team's website. There will be one each weekday until all players have been addressed.


Age: 32
Size: 6 foot 1, 227 pounds
Position: Defenseman
Acquired: Signed as free agent, 2018
Salary-cap hit: $3.25 million, through 2022-23
2018-19 NHL stats: One goal, 12 assists in 82 games

How he fits: Assuming he is not traded -- the Penguins were prepared to include him in a package that would have gone to Minnesota this summer if Phil Kessel hadn't vetoed the deal -- Johnson projects onto the second or third defense pairing, depending mostly on where the coaching staff decides to use Marcus Pettersson. Then again, considering what a lightning rod Johnson has become since signing here, the Penguins might want to deploy him on the PPG Paints Arena roof whenever a severe storm moves through the area.

Shortcomings: He does not have the mobility or puck-moving ability the Penguins covet in their defensemen. Although he had an offensive dimension to his game earlier in his career -- Johnson put up as many as 42 points in a season while playing in Columbus -- that seems now to be out of his repertoire. The early part of 2018-19 established that Johnson is not effective when playing on the right side.

Strengths: Johnson is durable -- he is the only Penguins defenseman to appear in all 82 regular-season games in 2018-19 -- despite playing a physically demanding style. He is a stay-at-home sort who led the team in hits (233) and blocked shots (147).

Hidden variable: Given that Johnson is counted on to contribute primarily in his own end, his personal stats could improve if there's a team-wide commitment to playing better defense, reducing the number of things like odd-man breaks allowed.

2019-20 expectations: If the coaching staff is willing to partner him with Erik Gudbranson, whose game is similar in many ways, Johnson likely will drop down to the No. 3 pairing. Assuming Jim Rutherford doesn't find a taker for his contract.

The big question: Should Johnson switch his sweater to No. 3, since he might be the most polarizing figure on the Penguins' defense since another guy who wore it, Ron Stackhouse?

All profiles to date can be found here.

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