Johnson, 35, was diagnosed with a hereditary heart abnormality during his training camp physical. He played for 12 seasons and signed with Detroit as a free agent after playing with the Nashville Predators for most of his career.
He broke into the NHL with Detroit and also played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks.
He scored 145 goals and 224 assists in 785 games and is Nashville's career leader with 502 games.
Johnson will join the Red Wings in a player development capacity, according to a release.