Johnson, 30, has four years left on a seven-year, $35 million contract he signed with the Lightning in July 2017. Johnson's contract carries a $5 million salary cap hit.
The Lightning center controlled his fate with a full no-trade clause. He had given Tampa Bay a limited number of teams for whom he would consider waiving it, but there wasn't enough traction to complete a deal. The no-trade clause doesn't prevent the Lightning from placing him on waivers, which will allow any team to assume the rest of the contract without giving the Lightning any assets in return.
Johnson had 31 points in 65 games last season for the Stanley Cup champions, the only team he has played for in the NHL. He has 339 points in 534 career games but has seen his points production decline in four straight seasons.
There's speculation that whatever team claims Johnson could leave him exposed in next offseason's expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken. Johnson is a native of Spokane, Washington.
The Lightning had to get aggressive this offseason with their salary cap, needing space to sign two restricted free agents -- center Anthony Cirelli and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev -- and protect against a potential offer sheet tendered on either of them.