Johnson to sign with Kings

Michigan star defenseman Jack Johnson is negotiating a contract with the Los Angeles Kings today, ending speculation of whether the sophomore would forgo his two remaining years of eligibility.

Johnson confirmed his departure in an exclusive interview with The Michigan Daily this afternoon.

"I thought I was ready for a new challenge," Johnson said. "With all my close friends, the seniors, gone now and everything, I thought it was time for me to pretty much go for a new challenge."
So much for him being difficult to sign.

Given the young phenom is going to be playing in the NHL beginning Tuesday, you have to think the Carolina Hurricanes would like a do-over of the deal that saw them acquire Eric Belanger and Tim Gleason for a player who posted nearly a point a game in the NCAA from the blueline.

GM Jim Rutherford was obviously dealing for the 'now' — something that doesn't appear to have paid off given their position in the standings.

At least with the NHL's wonky division-play heavy schedule, North Carolina hockey fans won't have to worry about him terrorizing them in person.

Johnson's the early favourite for the Calder Trophy in 2008, regardless of where the Kings sit in the standings. He's just a terrific player — one of the best young defencemen to join the league in years — and should make an immediate impact over the Kings' final six games of the regular season.

Not that they need him or anything.

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