One of the major surprises for me from Brian Burke‘s American roster was the addition of Jack Johnson. Other moves I could understand; Jonathan Quick is perceived as a future starter for the Americans, Chris Drury has years of reputation to help buoy his current miserable season, etc. But Johnson’s presence on the roster was something I found completely bewildering.

I’ll explain why. Since Johnson’s rookie year, where he went minus-5 in five games, he has consistently been underwhelming offensively and jis plus/minus numbers suggest he’s been ugly defensively too. Let’s compare him to his fellow Kings’ defencemen.

2007-08

  • Dallman: +4
  • Modry: +2
  • Preissing: -6
  • Stuart: -16
  • Visnovsky: -18
  • Blake: -19
  • Johnson: -19

2008-09

  • O’Donnell: +2
  • Drewiske: +1
  • Greene: +1
  • Quincey: -5
  • Gauthier: -11
  • Harrold: -13
  • Doughty: -17
  • Johnson: -18

2009-10

  • O’Donnell: +11
  • Doughty: +6
  • Greene: +2
  • Jones: +2
  • Scuderi: +1
  • Drewiske: -2
  • Harrold: -3
  • Johnson: -11

Am I the only one who sees the pattern?

It isn’t like Johnson is getting killed playing tough minutes, either. This season, he’s started in the offensive zone 58.7% of the time (2nd on the team). Last year, it was 50.8% of the time (middle of the pack). In fact, the only time he’s been below the 50.0% mark was in 2006-07, when he was sent out for a (rather difficult) 43.2% split. Quality of Competition gives us a similar split; this year Johnson ranks fifth among Kings defenders in QC, last year it was fourth, and the year before that he ranked third.

He’s a two-way defenceman who puts up lousy offensive and defensive numbers while not playing against the best opponents or starting a lot in his own end. I don’t see the appeal.

Comments (7)

  1. There is some irony that he is viewed in such a positive light. But Doughty has already blown way past him and ten years from now, we’ll probably forget Johnson was so highly-touted.

  2. Well, I’m still happy that the Kings stole a top-four defenceman from Carolina, but you’re right in that he’s nothing special defensively.

    But he made the team because the US doesn’t have anyone to run the second unit power play, especially if Martin isn’t healthy.

    Not to mention that the Kings are a team that basically defy all statistical models to begin with, and prove exactly why stat derivation techniques from a static sport like baseball can’t translate to hockey. Plus, for the last time – plus / minus is almost meaningless as a comparative measure. There’s a reason no salary arbitrators don’t look at that as a meaningful metric.

  3. Stephen:

    Ryan Whitney.

    And plus/minus certainly has it’s failings, but dead last three years running matters. Besides, I don’t see any particular reason to believe that statistics fail to explain the Kings; playing toughs and handling defensive zone work seems fairly universal.

  4. This isn’t a defense of Jack Johnson.
    LA only wins 48% of their draws,take away Stoll and it’s lower. So what advantage does the offensive zone draw entail when you lose more than you win?
    USA is going young and besides that,what are the alternatives? Hatchers?
    As for patterns,he is improving each and every year (38% improvement so far this year!!!!). USA Hockey has a program in place and JJ is a big part of their future (or so they think/hope).

  5. noskillgill:

    The advantage is the 200 extra feet the opposition has to go to score on your net.

  6. JW- I don’t really see that as being a huge factor. What happens once the draw is lost? The other team breaks out. 200 feet isn’t that far for an NHL player. I think,having played D most of my life; I’m gonna blame the forwards.
    Besides that, JJ is +1 in his last 12 games.

  7. Noskillgill:

    For articles on the importance of d. vs. o-zone faceoffs, see the following:

    http://www.behindthenethockey.com/2009/10/8/1077082/frequently-asked-questions-4-zone

    http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=3184#more-3184

    200 feet is a long way, particularly when a player needs to go through the other team to get there.

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