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Which defensemen should teams stay away from in free agency?

June 12, 2018, 10:18 AM ET [17 Comments]
HockeyBuzz Hotstove
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​In this edition of the hotstove, we discuss which defenders teams should avoid in free agency.​

Todd Cordell

I hope Jack Johnson lands a nice deal because of what his parents did to him but I certainly wouldn't give him one.

Johnson is a guy whose perceived value clearly outweighs his actual value. He is now 11 years into his NHL career. His teams have performed significantly better without him on the ice in almost all of them.

It's not just his on-ice numbers that are awful. His individual numbers are, too.

At 5v5, Johnson has averaged .52 points per 60 minutes played over the last three seasons. That's a lesser rate than the likes of Brooks Orpik, Robert Bortuzzo, Braydon Coburn, Ron Hainsey and Johnny Oduya, among many others. Not exactly impressive for a guy considered to be gifted offensively.

As somewhat of a name brand player in a shallow market, he's likely to get a lot more than he's worth. I'd recommend staying away.

Adam French

Jack Johnson.

People might think that Johnson would be a good addition for cheap on the bottom pairing. He had his worst season ever and seems on the outs with the Jackets. You would probably be wrong though. He won't be had on the cheap. He's probably going to cost a team 4mil+. Mostly based on his reputation and the fact that he is a better athlete than hockey player. The 31 year old has been an advanced stats dumpster fire for years. He's been a "regular?" stats dumpster fire for years as well. He's been a dumpster fire on the eyes as well. However he is a fantastic athlete with elite "tools" and people always want to picture what he could have been rather than what he is. Hence the inclusion on the US Olympic team.

With his PP time taken, his terrible defense finally punished after years of being ignored, there is little left to Johnson other than being able to skate forever and sometimes hit somebody. Not good enough to earn the needed offensive zone starts to shelter him and not good enough to play the defensive zone starts left to him. At 31, there's little room to advance and any hopes that he will finally "figure it out" should be scoffed at.

At 2mil or something similar to that on a short term deal, it's not the end of the world to sign him as a depth 5/6 defenseman. I think however he's going to get the benefit of the doubt and get a Kris Russell style of deal.

Peter Tessier

Former Cancuks Bieksa and Garrison come to mind but there's more here as this is a thin free agent market. But if you want a big name one, stay the heck away from Jack Johnson. First he has never lived up to the hype that came with him from college hockey and two because he needs a contract due to some sad but very real financial problems.

While Johnson could be a wait and see with a one year signing and hopes that he uses it to bounce back and earn more, is there much more to learn about him? Probably not and that's why you should run away from him should you even get the idea fo signing him.

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