NHL defensemen Jack Johnson and Nate Schmidt switch teams in free agency


The Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets signed blueliners on Wednesday according to ESPN. The Panthers were in need a defenseman when they lost Oliver Ekman-Larsson of Karlskrona, Sweden, to the Toronto Maple Leafs in National Hockey League free agency on Monday. On Wednesday, they came to terms with Nate Schmidt of St. Cloud, Minnesota on a one-year deal worth $800,000. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets signed Jack Johnson of Indianapolis, Indiana to a one-year deal worth $775,000.

Nate Schmidt

Schmidt is joining his fifth National Hockey League franchise. He previously played four seasons with the Washington Capitals (2013 to 2017), three seasons for the Vegas Golden Knights (2017 to 2020), one season with the Vancouver Canucks (2020 to 2021), and three seasons with the Winnipeg Jets (2021 to 2024).

This past season with the Jets, Schmidt had two goals and 12 assists for 14 points in 63 games. He was a +10 with four power-play points, one game-winning goal, 75 shots on goal, 76 blocked shots, 66 hits, 17 takeaways and 26 giveaways.

Both of Schmidt’s goals came against the Anaheim Ducks. Schmidt’s first goal was a game-winning goal in a 3-1 Jets win on January 5. Schmidt broke a 1-1 tie to make the score 2-1 at 1:57 of the third period. Defenseman Dylan Samberg of Saginaw, Minnesota and Vladislav Namestnikov of Zhukovskiy, Russia picked up the assists.

Schmidt’s second goal was in a 6-0 Jets win on March 15. Schmidt put the Jets up 2-0 at 7:47 of the second period. Nikolaj Ehlers of Aalborg, Denmark and Neal Pionk of Omaha, Nebraska had the assists.

Jack Johnson

Johnson is returning to the Blue Jackets. He previously played seven seasons with them from 2011 to 2018. In 445 games, he had 36 goals and 118 assists for 154 points in 445 games. He was a -19 with 198 penalty minutes, 58 power-play points, seven game-winning goals, one shorthanded point, 730 shots on goal, one faceoff win, 764 blocked shots, 731 hits, 101 takeaways, and 179 giveaways. Johnson’s faceoff win came in a 4-2 Blue Jackets win over the Minnesota Wild on New Year’s Eve, 2016. Johnson’s shorthanded point came in a 4-1 Blue Jackets win over the New Jersey Devils on March 19, 2017. Johnson set up Boone Jenner of Dorchester, Ontario for the game-winning goal at 10:23 of the first period. At the time the Blue Jackets went up 2-0.

Johnson has been around the NHL. He also played for the Los Angeles Kings for six seasons from 2006 to 2012, the Pittsburgh Penguins for two seasons from 2018 to 2020, the New York Rangers from 2020 to 2021, the Colorado Avalanche from 2021 to 2o22, and again from 2022 to 2024, and the Chicago Blackhawks from 2022 to 2023. While with the Avalanche, Johnson won the 2022 Stanley Cup.

This past season in Colorado, Johnson had three goals and 13 assists for 16 points. He was a +15 with 38 penalty minutes, 76 shots on goal, 89 blocked shots, 78 hits, 12 takeaways and 20 giveaways.


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