Player evaluation: Johnson


This season: 41 games, 6 goals, 5 assists, 46 penalty minutes, 20:17 average ice time.
The good: When Johnson returned from his shoulder surgery, his first 10 or 12 games were dynamic, and they helped contribute to some of the best hockey the Kings played in 2008-09. Johnson was aggressive, played with an edge and gave every indication that he was ready to fulfill his long-presumed potential and be a two-way force.
The bad: Well, after those first 10-12 games, Johnson seemed to regress. A pairing with Drew Doughty, which seemed to have great potential at first, fizzled, and while Doughty “graduated,” and earned enough trust to move into a No. 1 pairing with fellow rookie Davis Drewiske, Johnson inherited Sean O’Donnell, seemingly a sign that the Kings needed to protect him a bit by pairing him with the stable veteran O’Donnell.
Going forward: One of the most interesting storylines of the summer will be Johnson’s contract negotiations. He doesn’t have arbitration rights, so there will have to be an agreement reached. Johnson’s new agent doesn’t have any other hockey clients, but he’s big in motorsports circles. Johnson didn’t tip his hand at the end of the season when asked about whether he would seek a long-term or short-term contract. Will these talks be easy (Brown, Kopitar) or difficult (Cammalleri, O’Sullivan)? The answer could determine whether or not Johnson will be a King in the long term.

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  • Ersberg

    Hmm, the jury is still out on JJ(in my opinion). He needs a full season under his belt. We’ve seen lots of ups and downs during his short tenure as a King. The upside being he’s still young, hungry, and growing.

    Grade to date(lumping all of his NHL time together): B-

  • mrbrett7

    Me, personally, I was highly dissapointed with his play this season, when healthy.

    His positioning is horrific, he makes bad decisions with the puck in his own zone, and is weak in front of his own net, often getting pushed around by forwards fighting for position.

    I’m not ready to let him go, but I’m afraid to sign him long term for fear of a bust.

  • Starlight

    Motor sports agent, eh… so I guess if he doesn’t reach an agreement with the Kings, he’ll put JJ in a Nascar team then? 😉

  • anthonyy

    I hope JJ returns for a long time.
    He was one of DL’s best acquisitions.
    He’s got a bright future in the league.
    I hope he doesn’t piss of DL during contract negotiations.
    Rich, I agree with your analysis 100%.

  • Duckhunter


  • 4thlinechecker

    I think he is struggling with high expectations a bit… He shows that he has the skill, and has his moments of brilliance, but he does not look comfortable. He needs to be more physical, and is caught out of position on a nightly basis……. believe me, I want him to develop,I think he could be a monster, but I wouldnt sign him for more then 3 years.

  • mrbrett7

    I hope to God he develops into what he could be…just so far, he hasn’t really shown much of it.

  • Ersberg

    3-years/$2.2m per

  • David

    Give JJ time to develop. He’s only 22 and defense is the toughest position to play in the NHL.

    I must comment on the Kings missing the playoffs again for the 6th straight year. It was hard not to notice the rabid Shark Fans rocking the Shark-Tank last night during the pre-game, first period and rest of the game.

    We Kings Fans certainly deserve better. It’s been seven long years since we’ve been able to attend a playoff game.

    For those of you who have never attended a playoff game live, it’s light years better than the regular season. The passion and intensity are ratcheted up so much higher.

    Come on Mr. Anschutz, sell the team already to someone who will bring us back to the promised land, with a firm commitment to winning.

  • TB

    First, he’s a definite keeper. This season was tough on him with a new system and an untimely injury 2 games into the year. I personally think he has the potential of being as effective as Doughty on the offensive side of the puck. I hope he gets extended long term with a healthy contract. If anyone deserves a small leap of faith from DL…its this guy.

    Also, off topic…but how about the situation in Minnesota?? Is the ousting of the GM and the head coach a sign of things to come? Will they keep Gaborik? I bet that more than ever before Gaborik is eager to start anew somewhere else…and with how he closed out the year, I’d say lets give him a shot with a 2 year deal. Any thoughts?

  • nykingfan

    Grade C+
    Total Enigma.

    You can see the raw talent that he has. You can project his talent out to be as good as any defensman in the league.
    Here’s the problem….The talent has shown itself in brief glimpses. When he’s not on his game, he’s brutal!
    When bad, he’s the worst defensman on the Kings. When good, he’s better than all the rest…including Doughty.

    Doughty has spoiled us into thinking that every good young defensmen that comes up, will adapt as quickly as he has. The reality is that it’s rare. Guys like JJ get lumped in that.
    I hope JJ signs quickly with little bickering. If not, This may end up being a guy that’s only in it for the $$. From trying to read between the lines on what he says (against everything I believe)…I have a sneaky suspicion that he is that type of player.
    Let’s hope that like all of us trying to read between things, I’m wrong!

  • mark4kings

    Gotta agree with David. He’s only 22. He needs a few more seasons. I think part of the problem with evaluating him is that he was heavily in Drew Doughty’s shadow. And DD is a teenage freak. (I mean that in a great way)

  • Ersberg


    Regarding Gaborik..

    I’m thinking the opposite. I think he may want to stick around to see what happens in the off-season/next season. Now that Risebrough and Lemaire are gone, he may have some talk with the owner about him staying, which may lead to an extension.

    There’s some interesting times ahead in Minnesota, that’s for certain.

  • David


    I think you will see both Gaborik and Jacques Lemaire in Montreal when Training Camp opens in September.

  • Ersberg

    The Habs have so many UFA’s pending, I could see that happening as well.

  • anthonyy

    Are you kidding me.
    Not matter what, nobody can play worse than Gauthier.
    You’re starting to sound like me, LOL.

  • nykingfan

    Don’t say it Anthonyy LOL

    When he’s been bad…he’s been REALLY bad….same as Gauthier.

  • JDM

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Blake REALLY screwed up JJ for the short term.

    Forget the fact that Blake couldn’t cover his own assignments in the Dzone, let alone back up a rookie, but imagine how JJ felt when he came in, excited to get to play with his boyhood idol, who then turns out to an A-hole who doesn’t care about the team and plays without any enthusiasm or passion as Blake did last year. Imagine being a young defenseman thinking “Holy crap! I get to play and be paired with Rob Mutha F-ing Blake! How cool is that?!”, only to get here and find out you have to look to Jaroslav MODRY as your mentor.

    That must really do a number on a kids head. I know it would on mine.

    JJ should stay. He’s been absolutely awful a few too many times, but his upside is RIDICULOUSLY high. Even if he turns into more of a PP specialist, he’d have value. Although what he truly should become is a top two way defender. He’s so strong and an animal when he wants to be. A little overzealous and extremely prone to getting out of position, but a beast. I wonder if he’ll drop some of the huge muscle he put on to get his speed back up this summer. I liked him bulking up, but it seems he should find a little middle ground there.

    I have noticed how bad his decision making can be in the D zone. So many times this season, it seemed we’d have a great breakout only for JJ to get himself into a pinch, have to double back, maybe twice, and make a desparate backhand pass to his partner. Not good.

    But again, he has all the tools, just needs a good box. Blake was just a tool. OD is a tool-less box though, and a full season being paired with OD will do wonders for JJ. I have a strong feeling that is a large reason why DL was so anxious to get OD under contract next season. He saw the effect he had on Doughty and wants the same for JJ. I can only hope Murray is smart enough to pair them up for the duration of next season until JJ learns to walk and can start running a little on his own.

    Way too early to give up on this kid.

    The money thing worries me though. If he expects anything more than $2mill he’s insane. He’d be smart to sign a 2 year, $1.75 mill deal as quick as he can and prove his worth over the next two seasons. Far too early for a guy with such upside but such a wishy washy career so far to start demanding the bucks.

  • kingsince67

    JJ may be better served as a forward. He can skate and he appears to have a move or 2 plus size. Injuries have hurt his developement and that is very worrysome. JJ definately falls into the ” at the right price ” catagory. Hate to give up on him and have him flourish and hate even worse to invest cap space in maybe a guy who will not live up to his potential. Tough call…
    Gaborik is easy…STAY AWAY…too often injured. Where are you people that made this a point in Justin Williams and do not use talent as justification. His best talent is rehab of an injury. Is he just interested in the ” Hollywood ” part of LA and ends up like a few others have wasting their talents on late nights and starlets. My opinion is look for help elsewhere….

  • JDM

    What I remember hearing is that Gaborik loved the idea of playing with Kopitar.

    And I second using JJ as a forward. Atleast try it out 20 games into next season if he doesn’t seem to be learning how to position himself any better.

  • Irish Pat

    I’m really surprised at the amount of people slagging Jack Johnson here. This guy is a stud in the making. He has only played in 120 total games in the NHL- that’s not even 2 full seasons! God forbid he makes a mistake or two. The guy went from playing for a coach who treated him like garbage to a coach who expected him to learn a completely different style of professional hockey and he came back from shoulder surgery. Give the guy a break. I think way too many people see the play of Drew Doughty and are expecting JMFJ to be a clone of him. I feel sorry for Thomas Hickey, Colton Teubert and Vyachislav Voinov when they play their first two seasons if this is the expectation. We are insanely lucky to have Drew Doughty AND Jack Johnson and I sincerely hope we have them both for many, many years to come.

  • JDM

    We’re not saying Johnson sucks the big one. Just that he hasn’t done anything to deserve a big contract. I think we all want him here, but we want him on short term for cheap because we are skeptical about paying for potential on a long term contract.

    In retrospect, it was a HORRIBLE decision to bring up Johnson two seasons ago and burn a year of his ELC in 8 games or whatever it was.

  • variable

    lots of good points here…


    another top-notch analysis by hammer hammond…

    jj is going to want more money than he deserves…d.l. has already hinted at that during hammer’s interview a few months back…you can search the archives here to get the exact quotes…
    i think it’s going to be a interesting situation…i have a strong feeling/belief that jj and his agent (no matter who he is/isn’t) will be asking for something at/around $3mil per…i think that’s a bit ridiculous for him…the more and more i think about it, i would not offer him more than $2.5mil…i like ERSBERG’S $2.2mil per…i’d even make it a step contract situation…like 1.75/2/2.25 etc…anything more than that i think it’s not worth it…he hasn’t done anything to merit more consideration…

    the bigger issue i think when you talk about the kings and players like jj is that we just have too many of them…50/50% chance players…i will not dispute the upside on jj…he has it…however, he still hasn’t developed anything that is a “must have” quality for this team just yet…can he blossom into a force? absolutely…but there are younger (i realize jj is only 22, but we are tremendously deep at the blueline) players who have as much promise as jj at a cheaper cost…

    this is a tough one…d.l. has also said that he wants to get a deal done…so, the issue of an overpayment scenario is somewhat likely…it’s another flip a coin situation…it could go either way…

    as for the never-ending gabby watch…

    i also agree with ERSBERG on this one, too…the absence of both risebrough and lemaire is a last-ditch attempt from minny to keep gabby interested in a newly run/managed team w/a new style of play…
    however…i don’t think it’s going to work…

    remember…gabby was offered to us for frolov straight up…and d.l. thankfully turned it down…

    gabby is the most likely f.a. acquisition for us considering all the players that have been mentioned…

    and as QUISP and yrs truly have already indicated in previous threads, a performance-type deal can be offered since gabby has missed a number of games…current cba terms allow the two parties to reach such a deal if agreed upon…

    but with players like hossa/gabby, even though the cap constraints will limit many teams to overpay/spend, someone out there will probably do just that…

    and i really hope it’s not us…

  • AK47

    Everyone here knows how much of a man crush I have on Jack Johnson, so I will simply cut it short and quote Obama, YES WE CAN… re-sign him! He’s a huge part of our core imo, and we need his strong play. If we trade him or lose him somehow, it’ll be a HUGE loss and I’m talking huge. He’s only going to get better, hence doubling the goals he had last year in less games..

    He’s a stud..

    3 year contract, 2.5 per..
    No higher and I doubt he’ll be asking for more since he barely deserves more then that.

  • brianguy

    tough season for Jack. not what he expected I’m sure, but this will motivate him to work hard and come back with renewed ferociousness and tenacity.

    he started kinda slow, then got hurt big time. then came back slow after his recovery. but I like how he’s played lately after the injury.

    I am tempted to say incomplete since he very nearly didn’t play enough games to be fair to rate. but I’ll give him an overall score of 82/100 for a B/B-

  • Ersberg

    JJ as a forward..

    That’s not a bad idea. Hell, Harrold does it. If he can do it, anyone can. Well, maybe not Goat.

    At any rate, I heard the same regarding Gabs. He wants to play with the Kopimonster.

  • historyguy

    Do any of you have any idea how long it typically takes for an NHL defenseman to develop? Or are you so dense as to think “if Doughty can do it and Johnson can’t, then JJ is a bust”? Defensemen usually don’t “get it” until about 24-25, and those who just walk in and play like Doughty are phenoms.

    Are any of you old enough to remember when Daryl Sydor broke in after being a #1 pick? He was bloody awful over his first 3 seasons. Then it all clicked and he became a stalwart offensive D-man who is still playing in this league.

    We should be thankful that we have both a current phenom in Doughty and a defenseman who will be basically a star in a year or two in JJ.

  • BillM

    With certain rare exceptions, bigger defensemen almost always need at least two full seasons under their belts before they really come into their own. I think it takes that long for them to attune themselves to the faster paced NHL game. JJ will be fine; don’t start tinkering with him already!

  • Scott

    Johnson was caught out of position too often and is pushed off the puck too easily by the bigger forwards. He just isn’t a big enough d-man and your offensive game better offset any height disadvantage (which isn’t the case with him.) A guy like Doughty overcomes size with his instincts, speed, and offense, all of which eclipse those of Johnson. Kings need more guys who are 6’3 like Greene and less guys who are 6’1 or smaller on D.

  • AK47


    let’s just hope to God that DL thinks that too.. I hope JJ stays a King.. He will hoist the cup after Brownie and Doughty..

  • anonymous

    Jack Johnson has always been highly touted on all levels of play since he was playing at Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep.

    His biggest problem, to me, is that the things he was used to doing in college at Michigan and at the Team USA don’t translate to the pro game of the NHL.

    He needs to play a more disciplined style of defense. He can’t get away with the things he was doing before. This includes jumping up into the play and not getting back, playing out of position and basically picking and choosing his spots on a whim. The thing that makes Doughty so good is his instincts, knowing when to make the safe play, knowing when to rush and knowing when to stay back. Johnson’s instincts are not as keen.

    These are correctable things, and he definitely has all the tools to be a very good defenseman, but he is just going to have to take a step back and re-tool his game and his decision-making. If he cannont overcome these things, he may never reach his potential in the NHL.

    I know he’s young and he has time to correct his game, at this point, I would rather have Tim Gleason on the blueline…

  • number 6

    Very interesting the comments on this page. One person brought up the effect that his experience with Rob Blake must have had. Never thought of it, but that is a very interesting pov indeed. May be something in that. Also, his attitude of late has been a bit peculiar.
    On the flip side though, look how many top d men the Kings have jettisoned out of town. Larry Murphy (he wasn’t too bad), SOD, Daryl Sydor ( a few Cups if memory serves me), Joe Corvo, Philippe Boucher, and on and on I suppose. There does come a time when you’ve gotta hang in w some of them. But agreed if he asks for a contract based on potential it puts DL in a difficult spot.

  • Scott

    number 6, gotta remember the Kings had to let go of their great players of the early/mid 90’s b/c of the mess Bruce McNall left them in. They had no money.

  • wisconsinKingsfan

    I don’t think that Johnson has quite proven himself yet but there is still an upside to his game. He just needs to get a full season under his belt in order for me to better evaluate him.

  • wisconsinKingsfan

    David said:

    I have to agree with your comments regarding playoff hockey. I actually went to the Sharks/Ducks game that you were mentioning and the place was definitely rocking. I can’t wait for the Kings to make the playoffs. Next year, right? 😉

  • Dan H.

    I think this kid is a stud but I agree that you can’t throw too much money at potential.

    If he’ll go long term reasonably I say do it. If not give the 2 year deal and then hash it out down the line.