Games Played: 49
(Goals – Assists – Points): 12-20-32
Contract Status: Signed Through 2024 at $5M AAV
The Short View
Tyler Johnson played 49 games this season, short again of a full 82. But his numbers were a good sign. The 32-year-old forward put up 32 points, his best showing since putting up 54 in 2018-19 while he played for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Imagine what he could have done with more.
On a rebuilding team, Johnson provides veteran leadership and can hold his own skill wise. With a year remaining on his deal, it can be a very rewarding season for both him and the Blackhawks.
The Long View
Johnson was dealt to Chicago along with Tampa’s 2023 second-round pick for Brent Seabrook’s contract. Seabrook was done, which allowed Tampa flexibility in the way of placing him on the long-term injured reserve. Johnson had come off a second Stanley Cup title and could help a Chicago team looking for one last shot at a real run. This was then general manager Stan Bowman’s thinking at the time, which ended up blowing up in his face, and prompting a full scale rebuild with Kyle Davidson taking over. Johnson went from role player to savvy veteran who would help mentor young players.
His $5M cap hit made him all but unmovable, until this season. Barring Connor Bedard becoming a Blackhawk, it seems Chicago is likely going to stay on this path and allow the rebuild to take its course. Johnson can continue to mentor and if he can put up similar, if not better numbers, it could be a win-win for both Chicago and him.
Johnson can play his way onto a contender with another good season. Chicago can gather more draft capital or a prospect while retaining half of his salary to do so. Johnson has been a good soldier for an organization that did a philosophical about-face months after he was acquired.
The Bottom Line
With one year remaining on his deal, the Blackhawks are likely still in rebuild mode while Johnson has the chance to build on a good season. Much remains to be seen for what the Blackhawks do both in the draft and free agency. But as mentioned above, it can be a win-win for both sides if everything goes right.