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Jack Johnson Has A Perennially Bad Adjusted +/-

I want to look at one more case study from my worst 20 adjusted +/- ratings for 2010/11.  I want to look at Jack Johnson of the Los Angeles Kings.  He is the sixth worst this season with a -22.2 rating.  This is a consistent ranking for him as in 2009/10 he was also sixth worst in the league this time with a -18.2 rating.  In fact in Johnson’s NHL career he has never had a season where he wasn’t well into the minus ratings.  Since some of his seasons do not have enough games to properly adjust his +/-, I will present his career stats with his raw +/- ratings.

Jack Johnson’s Career Numbers
Season
GP
Points
 +/- 
2006/0750

-5

2007/087411

-19

2008/094111

-18

2009/108036

-15

2010/118242

-21



We see that Jack Johnson’s points total is consistently improving as he progresses into his career but his +/- is not improving.  It consistently remains bad.  Why is this and what does it mean?

Johnson was a top prospect.  He was chosen third overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005.  Before he played an NHL game he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings.  He remained thought of as a top prospect and played for the United States in the 2010 Olympics.  He was the 23rd highest scoring defenceman in the NHL and highest scoring defenceman on his Los Angeles team.  He shows potential to continue to improve these offensive numbers into the future.  What he doesn’t show is strong defensive play.  Johnson makes poor decisions and often gets caught pinching offensively.  He gives up far more goals/ scoring chances/ shots against than he produces.  In short the caricature of an offense only really bad defence that is often given to Mike Green is actually true of Jack Johnson.

Johnson is a very effective player on the power play.  He scored 28 of his 42 points this season on the power play.  This left him only 13 even strength points and one shorthanded one.  In fact Johnson led the Kings in power play time and was very valuable in doing so in 2010/11.  He also led the team in even strength playing time and had far less value here.  In fact he was a liability.  The Kings cannot have a top team with a player like Johnson getting that much playing time.  Fortunately, Drew Doughty is available and should be able to be the Kings dominant player in terms of ice time.  Last year often Doughty and Johnson played as linemates and Doughty carried Johnson, while Johnson pulled Doughty back from being a serious Norris Trophy candidate.  Doughty would be better used with a more competent partner.

Jack Johnson should not be used as a team’s number one defenceman.  He is a very effective power play point man and is useful in offensive situations, but should not have nearly as much responsibility as the Kings give him.  Johnson continually shows weakness and bad decisions in his defensive play and yet he keeps being seen as a star who was a top prospect.  He signed a seven year contract last year with an over $4 million salary cap hit last season.  This looks like a mistake.  Los Angeles has made a commitment to a player who is an even strength liability and holds their team back.

Jack Johnson is an example of a player who has been picked to be a star since his junior days.  He is offensively talented, but that doesn’t make up for the liabilities in his defensive game.  These liabilities do not seem to be improving and they consistently show up in his +/- ratings.  Because he has strengths and has been highly regarded by scouts his whole career, Johnson keeps getting chances he doesn’t deserve (2010 Olympics, leading the Kings in even strength ice time).  I think Los Angeles looks like a team capable of making a step forward to becoming a serious Stanley Cup contender in the near future, but they will not do so unless Johnson’s role with the team is reduced.

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Comments

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don’t need stats to tell you that johnson is a defensive embarrassment.  just watch him try to play defense and fail.  every shift.  should have been traded right after the olympics when his hype would have masked his failings.

Posted by rico from LA, CA on 07/09/11 at 07:37 PM ET

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He’s not used as a #1 defenseman, he’s a 3/4.
Although Johnson & Doughty saw some pp time together, they were usually split up and paired with Scuderi & Mitchell respectively. Doughty’s troubles last season have absolutely nothing to do with Jack Johnson.

Posted by chingus on 07/09/11 at 07:44 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

He’s not used as a #1 defenseman, he’s a 3/4.

When a player leads the team in ice time at even strength he is a number one guy at even strength.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 07/09/11 at 07:47 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

He’s not used as a #1 defenseman, he’s a 3/4.
Although Johnson & Doughty saw some pp time together, they were usually split up and paired with Scuderi & Mitchell respectively. Doughty’s troubles last season have absolutely nothing to do with Jack Johnson.

Posted by chingus on 07/09/11 at 05:44 PM ET

You’re 100% correct….you beat me to it with your post.  Doughty has his issues, mostly based on trying to do too much each shift. Johnson just isn’t as skilled in his own end as the hype would have one believe. Frankly, JJ and Greene are the weak links as far as I’m concerned. I have more confidence in whoever wins the 6th spot…

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 07/09/11 at 07:56 PM ET

statelouis26's avatar

Johnson is the Matt Carle, the Steve Eminger of today.  I’m sorry but he just never has never developed into the offensive-DEFENSEMAN he was projected from the days a blue chipper from Carolina and UM.  It’s like Mike Green Syndrome.  I love when Lombardi said that Michigan doesn’t develop their players. It seems true especially of late.  It just seems that Johnson was never taught how to operate in his end and now its very hard to adjust (or maybe he just doesn’t give a hoot).  Craparusso, Summers, Pulshaj, Hensick, Pacioretty.  All of these guys showed great potential, at least in their years at college (early).  But apparently Barenson is not teaching these kids what they need to develop, instead letting them loose without learning defense responsibility and the like.  Shame

Posted by statelouis26 from Detroit, MI on 07/11/11 at 04:26 AM ET

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The people on this blog must never watch hockey.  Jack Johnson is your typical aggressive d-man.  He plays an physical and aggressive style that can can be looked at as reckless, but it is also a style that can really neutralize offenseive teams (as he did at times to San Jose in the playoffs).  If anything I see the Kings and media trying to spin Doughty’s bad season as a factor of pairing or pressure or coaching.  Doughty had a bad season because he came into camp out of shape he thought it was junior hockey still and he would get into shape as the season goes on.  Jack Johnson makes mistakes but thats because he is still young and learning to be a #1 d-man.  On average teams your top d-men are often in the minus.

Posted by Erik on 07/11/11 at 12:10 PM ET

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Its true that he plays a riskier game. And yes he’s responsible for giveaways from time to time (and I’ve certainly been angry with him on several occasions). But what the +/- stat doesn’t show is that he can play some inspired defense as well. Sometimes he’ll make a defensive play that will impress me more than what he’s done on offense. So my point is he has the IQ for good defense; his problem is that he needs to be more consistent. And while it’s hard to teach IQ, it’s not impossible to teach a player to be consistent. And lets not forget that he’s 24 and being asked to play as a two-way d-man (arguably the toughest role to master).

I’ll also say this: Terry Murray gave him ice time, Dean Lombardi gave him a contract extension, Brian Burke gave him a spot on the US team, and Ron Wilson made him an important fixture on the US blueline. I doubt ALL four of these veterans were fooled by the Johnson hype; they definitely saw something in him.

Posted by Tim on 07/11/11 at 09:34 PM ET

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He also led the team in even strength playing time and had far less value here.

Doughty missed 6 games, that’s why Johnson had more overall even strength ice time than him. Doughty played more often on a per game basis.

Either way it’s a mistake to play Johnson so much at even strength, especially since his minutes are usually pretty easy and he’s still getting burned

On average teams your top d-men are often in the minus.

Every single defenseman on the Kings was a plus except for Johnson and Davis Drewiske (who was -1).

Posted by rudykelly on 07/15/11 at 06:28 PM ET

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I’m befuddled how JJ can look so good internationally (and sometimes in the postseason) yet suck in NHL regular season (and sometimes postseason) play. So I agree with Tim that JJ needs to be more consistent (-ly good). He is very far from that point, though.

Posted by Ralph on 07/19/11 at 04:06 AM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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