There are reasons why a certain segment of individuals (fans, media and Scott Howson) think Jack Johnson is good, namely, he's a third-overall draft pick and he posted 42 points last season. He skates well and comes with a big reputation. Those individuals use words like "a stud" and "a rock" and "power play quarterback" to describe Johnson, kind of like some individuals describe Cam Barker. But any kind of deeper analysis of Johnson's game leads the analyzer to one conclusion: Jack Johnson is not good.
Rudy Kelly, Kings fan extraordinaire, looked into Johnson's impact on his teammates:
...the Kings are better without Jack Johnson. Or at least, every single defenseman on the team (except Drewiske) plays better without Jack Johnson. This despite the fact that Jack didn't play the toughest minutes on the team (those go to Mitchell and Doughty). The evidence is circumstantial but poor people have been put to death with less
As for Kelly's personal take on Johnson, it's sightly less than complimentary:
I have talked many times of my hatred for Jack Johnson. Many, many times. Basically, I don't like him because he doesn't do anything to positively affect a play when he's on defense; he's generally in the right place but he's not actively doing the things he needs to do to end that offensive possession. He's a buck-toothed pylon, basically.
Skeptical of Kelly's take? Kings' General Manager Dean Lombardi feels the same way:
"Jack was a thoroughbred out there. But he was all over the place. He was awful as a hockey player. As an athlete, you’re going, wow! Look at the way he skates, shoots, he can pass. But he had no idea where he was going. At times, he was playing forward at Michigan. You had no idea what position he was playing. But he had always been the star and he always got his numbers. Then he turns pro and for the first time, we’re telling him ‘whoa, just make the first pass and learn to play in your own end.’ How about making a read in your own end about the right guy to pick up? He was awful."
So there's that.
For Blue Jackets' fans, Johnson's player card at Gabriel Desjardins' behindthenet.ca has to be distressing. The number pulsing in neon lights is his relative Corsi over five years.
Discount his rookie season (he actually had difficult zonestarts that season) and his performance is bad. He's never faced tough minutes and has had neutral zonestarts four of his five seasons. As for that rookie season, it was putrid:
At this point it's worth noting one special season that seriously weighs down the 21 year old numbers. Jack Johnson posted an impossibly bad -436 Corsi in his first year in L.A.
I had the displeasure of counting scoring chances and analyzing the Kings' performance against the Sharks in the 2011 playoffs. I came away thinking Johnson had work to do to become mediocre:
The black hole that is Jack Johnson helped to kill the Kings via "spaghettification." I poked fun at Johnson throughout the series, but the underlying numbers reveal just how weak he was. He has an awful habit of getting caught in no-man's land on a consistent basis -- if Johnson lived on the Korean Peninsula, he would wander into the DMZ three or four times per day. It's not that he makes mistakes in his own zone, it's that he surprises everyone when he shows up in the right place. The Sharks took advantage of Johnson's play and buried him at even strength. The scoring chances do not paint a pretty picture.
Johnson was nothing more than a broken turnstile the Sharks whizzed through as they entered the Kings' zone:
The full depth and breadth of the Johnson - Scuderi pairing's inept play are on display here. For every 15 minutes of even strength play, they were giving up four more chances than the Kings were creating to the Couture line. They were giving up between three and five more chances per 15 minutes to the Thornton line.
Eric T from Broad Street Hockey made a point that sums up Johnson's performance:
i don't trust existing stats as evaluators of defensemen quite as much as for forwards, but...the guy was last on the Kings in both Corsi and GAON/60 four years in a row. that's...bad.
So there you have it. Jack Johnson has some power play ability and a big reputation. He's a black hole who drags down his teammates at even strength. Take away his big reputation and all that's left is Marc-Andre Bergeron. Scott Howson just traded Jeff Carter for Marc-Andre Bergeron and 30% chance at a .5 P/G player. Nice work, Scott.