Report: Jack Johnson and the Pittsburgh Penguins Have "Mutual Interest" In a Free Agent Contract

By Rob Mixer on June 26, 2018 at 2:15 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson, who is reportedly interested in joining the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent.
Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports

Well, wouldn't this be interesting?

Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson, one of the team's longest-tenured players, will be moving on from the organization this weekend when free agency opens. The "courting period," where teams and players can discuss parameters of a contract, is open – and a Metropolitan Division rival has stepped up its pursuit.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are in "intense" discussions with Johnson, and captain Sidney Crosby is reportedly leading the way. Crosby and Johnson are longtime friends going back to their Shattuck St. Mary's days, and Crosby is pushing Penguins management to land Johnson as a free agent.

This, from Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Some might question the fit, but Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been lobbying for the Penguins to pursue Johnson, according to a source. Johnson was Crosby’s prep school teammate at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and one of his best friends.

Rutherford has previously expressed a desire to bolster his defense corps, although he’s talked about wanting a defenseman who can play the right side. Johnson can, but he’s spent the bulk of his career on the left.

According to Mackey, the Penguins would need to do some salary cap maneuvering if they're to sign Johnson. Pittsburgh announced a four-year contract for versatile forward Bryan Rust earlier Tuesday; Johnson made $4.35 million against the cap last season, the final year of a seven-year deal signed with the Los Angeles Kings. 

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