Tonight marked one of the most important moments of the 2010/2011 season for the Los Angeles Kings. It was long thought that Dean Lombardi wanted to lock Jack Johnson up for a long time, and tonight he was finally able to do so.
Johnson is having a great offensive year (on pace for 62 points). This recent stellar play in both ends of the ice sheet allowed Johnson to showcase his abilities for Dean Lombardi. He is solid in the defensive end and wicked in the offensive end. This season, Johnson has been the No. 1 defender. That's right, not Drew Doughty.
While the terms of the deal were not immediately released, it has been reported that the deal is for seven years and $30.5 million. That works out to be a cap hit of approximately $4.36 million per season.
If you look at some of the defenders who signed as free agents during the summer of 2010, you will notice that Johnson's new cap hit could work out to be quite the steal. Dan Hamhuis in Vancouver signed for $4.5 million, Anton Volchenkov signed for $4.25 and Paul Martin signed for $5 million. It's impossible to say that these guys are all that much better than Johnson; he fits right in.
Jack Johnson isn't going to wow you with his play, but he is going to get the job done quickly and effectively. That in itself is what I mean by the aforementioned "wicked" play.
In conclusion, the cap hit is fair for a great player for the Los Angeles Kings. It seems fitting that the Kings lock up one of their stars to one of the longest contracts offered in franchise history. Dean Lombardi's next task should be to lock up Drew Doughty to a long deal of similar length.
I bring that up because this deal could end up working in Lombardi's favor. With Johnson signed at a reasonable cap hit while he is playing better than Doughty, it could drive Doughty's future cap number down. Wouldn't that be great management?
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