Pittsburgh — The Jack Johnson experiment is over in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins placed the 33-year-old defenseman and former Michigan standout on waivers Monday so it can buy out the remaining three years of the deal he signed with the club in 2018.
Johnson signed a five-year, $16.25 million contract with the Penguins in an effort to bring some thump to the team’s blue line, but he has struggled to keep pace with faster forwards during his tenure and the contract became an albatross of sorts for a team that pledged to get faster and younger following a qualifying-round playoff exit to Montreal.
Johnson scored four goals to go with 20 assists in two seasons in Pittsburgh. He was particularly ineffective in the playoffs, posting a minus-3 rating during a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders in 2019 and a minus-4 rating in a four-game loss to the Canadiens.
Johnson became expendable when Pittsburgh acquired defenseman Mike Matheson from Florida as part of a deal that sent two-time Stanley Cup-winning forward Patric Hornqvist to the Panthers.
The Penguins did extend qualifying offers to a handful of restricted free agents, including goaltender Matt Murray. Murray, however, figures to be on the trading block after Pittsburgh signed 2020 All-Star Tristan Jarry to a three-year deal last week.
The Penguins also gave offers to forwards Pontus Aberg, Anthony Angello, Sam Lafferty and Sam Miletic. The team opted not to extend offers to three players, including forward Dominik Simon. Simon had 19 goals and 45 assists in parts of five seasons in Pittsburgh. He will become an unrestricted free agent on Friday.