Back to the Future

There really hasn’t been a young player in the Los Angeles Kings system that’s been as bi-polar to fans as Jack Johnson has been over the last 5 years. Everyone thinks that Dean Lombardi stole him from Carolina in 2006, giving up only Eric Belanger and Tim Gleason… but people don’t realize that the Kings actually got the bad end of that deal. They had to take on Oleg Tverdovsky for 26 games. 

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This was the only action Tverdovsky and Sopel had near the net during their Kings tenure.

Kings fans were ecstatic with the trade and the legend of JMFJ was born. And then… he actually started playing for the Kings. 

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It’s not that Jack Johnson is a horrible NHL defenseman. Don’t get me wrong. He’s far from it. In fact, I even singled him out as having the potential for the biggest breakout on the Kings this season. I mean, for fucks sake… he’s 6th in the league in scoring!

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Way to salary dump, Chicago. 

It’s just that when you are drafted 3rd overall and have been a poster-boy for the rise in the development of the American hockey player… there is a certain expectation of play. And some nights Jack Johnson looks like a sure-fire #1 NHL defensemen.. and some nights he looks like Thomas Wilson on skates. 

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The thing to remember is that Johnson is only 23 years old. And his skill level is only going to increase. It turns out that Dean Lombardi knew exactly what he was talking about when he called out Johnson last year for his lack of hockey pedigree. Johnson has taken a huge leap forward but still struggles on a nightly basis to understand the basic defensive responsibility of an elite NHL defenseman. But then the next moment he does this. 

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So 30 million over 7 years, with a 4.3 million dollar cap hit each year. I’d say it’s a pretty fair deal, considering what other defensemen in the NHL will be making between 5 and 4 million a year the next few seasons.

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That Komisarek deal just gets better and better each game.

And the best part of it all? It’s a very tradable contract. Even if this is the top of Jack Johnson’s talent ceiling… if that elusive NHL white whale, the scoring left winger, becomes available the next few seasons… and the Kings young defensemen mature as they are supposed to, 4.3 million dollars is a very easy cap number to navigate in a trade. 

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“Jack, I’m very happy you re-signed. But don’t fuck up, I have my eye on you. Until I’m fired.”

I’m not saying that I’m upset with the extension of Jack Johnson at all… I’m just saying that as a fan, I’d rather watch Drew Doughty struggle horribly through a season than watch Johnson throw a puck up the middle in his zone again. But for now, Dean Lombardi has locked up Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Matt Greene and Jack Johnson all through the 2013-2014 season at decent rates. Now just lock up Kyle Clifford to a lifetime contract and we’ve got ourselves a team. 

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“Marco!”

“Stollo!”

“Fish out of the doghouse!”

Oh yeah… the Los Angeles Kings ended a 5 game losing streak with a questionable win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sharpen your skates, have a piece of loyal toast and put on your favorite Tom Cochrane record… cause Monday night at Staples is Canadian Pride Night!

The Royal Half has been a Los Angeles Kings fan since 1988 and a Half-Season Ticket Holder since 2002. He has seen the following goaltenders play in person for the Los Angeles Kings… Kelly Hrudey, Grant Fuhr, Byron Dafoe, Jamie Storr, Stephane Fiset, Felix Potvin, Cristobal Huet, Roman Cechmanek, Mathieu Garon, Adam Hauser, Jason LaBarbera, Barry Brust, Sean Burke, Dan Cloutier, Yutaka Fukufuji, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones.You can follow The Royal Half on Twitter @TheRoyalHalf.