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Kings re-sign defenseman Jack Johnson

Two-year deal gives Johnson time to 'prove what level player he can get to' says Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall.

July 18, 2009|Helene Elliott

The Kings re-signed restricted free-agent defenseman Jack Johnson to a two-year contract Friday with an annual cap hit of $1.425 million, a deal that gives Johnson time to "prove what level player he can get to," according to Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall.

Johnson, 22, played only 41 games last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. He has offensive skills but has had trouble in his own zone, and his return had rocky moments. However, Hextall said the club's management strongly believes in Johnson's potential.

"To me, he's a big part of our young core," said Hextall, speaking for vacationing GM Dean Lombardi. "You look at Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson and you look at two pillars of our young defense.

"He didn't have a great year. He got hurt, and it's tough to come back when everyone else is going 100 mph. He had some good points and some points where he didn't play his best hockey, but he played solid for us two years ago."

At one point, Johnson's father, Jack Sr., reportedly looked into having his son play in Russia next season, and Jack Jr. was the subject of trade rumors. Hextall said negotiations were prolonged when Johnson switched agents last year but said the talks weren't frustrating for the Kings.

Hextall also said they had discussed terms from a one-year qualifying offer to five years. "The middle ground seemed to work for both sides," Hextall said.


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