Penguins interested in Jack Johnson?
The presence of Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen at Monday's Tampa Bay Lightning-Pittsburgh Penguins game sparked speculation of a trade brewing between the Blue Jackets and Penguins. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the Penguins are seeking experienced blueline depth and are willing to part with young defenseman Simon Despres. He claimed the Penguins would prefer to land a defenseman currently on a long-term contract to either serve as a defense partner for Kris Letang or his replacement if he departs via free agency in 2014. Rossi felt Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson would fit that role. That sparked rumors of a “Johnson-for-Despres” trade, but Kekalainen dismissed the notion as “silly.” He claimed he was old friends with Penguins GM Ray Shero and took advantage of an off-day to attend a game between two clubs he wouldn't otherwise have a chance to watch this season. Unless Johnson demands a trade, Kekalainen is unlikely to move his most skilled defenseman. The 26-year-old is in the second year of a seven-year, $30.5-million contract and hasn't expressed unhappiness about playing for the Blue Jackets. Given the Blue Jackets are once again mired in the basement of the Western Conference, changes could be coming to their roster soon. Despite the no-movement clauses of pending free agent veterans such as Vaclav Prospal and Adrian Aucoin, they're more likely to become trade candidates than younger talent like Johnson.
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting and The Sports Xchange. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.