TSN Insider Darren Dreger, asked to name a wild-card who could be dealt at the trade deadline earlier tonight:
“I’m going with Jack Johnson. You want a wild card name, there’s a wild card name for you, from the Los Angeles Kings. Dean Lombardi’s going to love me for that. The only way Johnson is in play though, obviously is if they get that top-six guy, somebody that’s going to push them over the edge.”
Could the Oilers put together a package for Johnson?
Leaving aside for a moment whether or not acquiring Johnson would be a good idea for the Oilers, the answer would seem to be ‘no.’ Dreger talks about the Kings’ need to get a top-six guy, “somebody that’s going to push them over the edge.” That eliminates a package – which the Oilers could put together – and shifts the focus to a single player. The Oilers aren’t trading one of the ‘big three.’ Given how Ryan Smyth left the Kings this past summer, neither side is likely to welcome a reunion. Sam Gagner isn’t a fit either – the Kings have Kopitar/Richards/Stoll up the middle, and it’s hard to imagine anyone getting ecstatic about converting him to the wing.
That leaves Ales Hemsky. Hemsky’s not a long-term pickup for whoever acquires him, in all likelihood – he has an expiring contract and the team acquiring him has no guarantee they’ll be able to keep him. While he’s not nearly as bad as some make him out to be, and he will have value (particularly given that there are not a lot of top-six forwards on the market this year but many teams want one), he is not having a particularly good season by his standards. The Kings got burned last year by the Oilers when they picked up Dustin Penner for futures, and it’s doubtful they have any interest in repeating the experience.
That’s not to say a trade is entirely impossible. Without knowing what Lombardi would demand for Johnson, that’s not something I can say. However, Dreger’s comment seemed to indicate that such a trade was a longshot, and I’d say that’s even more true when it comes to the Oilers.
This is probably a good thing, despite the Oilers’ need for a young defenseman.
I’ve talked about Jack Johnson at some length before. Last year, the Kings rewarded him with a massive contract extension halfway through a one of a kind offensive season. At the time, I argued strongly that Johnson was getting a ton of breaks that would not continue. As it turned out, I was right – his scoring dropped off immediately and drastically.
His defensive play is bad. There are all kinds of fancy stats I could drag out to show this, but I want to focus on plus/minus. Plus/minus is a difficult statistic to use – over the short-term, so many things impact it that it can be wildly unreliable. Over the long-term however, these things tend to balance out, and a strong pattern says a lot about the player. There is such a strong pattern in Johnson’s case. Johnson started his Kings career in 2006-07, going minus-5 over five games. Here are his plus/minus numbers by year since then, along with his rank among Kings’ defensemen:
- 2007-08: Minus-19, dead last
- 2008-09: Minus-18, dead last
- 2009-10: Minus-11, dead last
- 2010-11: Minus-21, dead last
- 2011-12: Minus-10, dead last
- Total, 2007-present: Minus-83, dead last (next closest: Rob Blake at minus-19)
2010-11, the year Johnson got his massive contract extension, really stands out: the next worst Kings defenseman was minor-league call-up Jake Muzzin, who went minus-2 over 11 games. Davis Drewiske, with a minus-1 over 38 games, was the only other minus on the team’s blue line. Add in the fact that according to behindthenet.ca, Johnson has never ranked as one of the team’s top-two defensemen in difficulty of opposition, and there’s a word for that trend: damning.
It’s just as well that an Oilers/Kings trade involving Johnson is unlikely.