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Penguins are buying out Jack Johnson

Penguins Jack Johnson

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 5: Jack Johnson #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates during an NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres on March 5, 2020 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. Pittsburgh won, 4-2. (Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins continued their offseason overhaul on Monday by placing defenseman Jack Johnson on waivers for the purposes of buying out his contract.

Johnson had three years remaining his contract that carries a $3.125 million per year salary cap hit.

As part of the buyout, that salary cap hit will be spread out over the next six seasons.

According to CapFriendly, it will look like this.

This move will save the Penguins about $1.45 million in salary cap space this upcoming season, but it will give them some dead money on their cap for several years.

The Penguins signed Johnson to a five-year contract prior to the 2018-19 season, a deal that was almost universally panned.

It was not so much the fact that they signed Johnson and brought him in that was the issue. On the right contract that could have been a very defensible and understandable move.

It was the five-year term and significant salary cap hit for a player that was probably best suited to be a sixth-or-seventh defenseman that caused issues. Especially as part of a team that was already pressed against the salary cap and did not have much wiggle room for mistakes.

In his two years with the team Johnson badly struggled. Despite those struggles, he maintained a regular spot in the lineup, while general manager Jim Rutherford continued to defend his play and insist that they were happy with what he provided, even going as far as to consistently lash out at critics. But it was clear this offseason that something had to give. After acquiring Mike Matheson from the Florida Panthers and re-signing Juuso Riikola, the Penguins had an abundance of left defenseman with Johnson, Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson also signed to long-term deals.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan prefers not to play defenders on their off-side, meaning one of those left defensemen was probably going to have to go. It turned out to be Johnson.

In the end this turned out to be a Penguins problem, not a Jack Johnson problem. He did what anyone else would have done when given that contract offer -- he signed it, he played hard, and he did everything he could.

It was just the wrong fit, for the wrong team, on the wrong contract.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.