Kent Johnson, 6-1, 167 pounds

October 18, 2002 (19..."/> Kent Johnson, 6-1, 167 pounds

October 18, 2002 (19..."/>

2022 Season Preview: Kent Johnson

Apr 16, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Kent Johnson (13) warms up before a game against the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 16, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Kent Johnson (13) warms up before a game against the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kent Johnson, 6-1, 167 pounds

October 18, 2002 (19 years old)

Drafted 1st round (#5 overall), 2021 NHL Draft

Cap hit: $925k through 2023-24 (ELC)

Role: Middle six winger

Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

To say Kent Johnson has been a busy player over the last year, would be a huge understatement. Since being drafted by the Blue Jackets, Johnson has played in the NCAA, the World Junior Championships, the World Championships, the Olympics, and the NHL. At each stop, he’s dazzled with his skill and been a dangerous player, creating scoring chances seemingly out of nothing. He will make the jump to the professional ranks full time this fall – most likely as a Columbus Blue Jacket.

Johnson scored 8 goals and 37 points for the Michigan Wolverines, playing in just 32 games due to his other commitments. Upon the end of his NCAA season, he joined the Blue Jackets and skated in 9 games, earning 3 assists in limited minutes. Kent is just the fourth player in history to record a goal at the World Juniors, World Championships, and Olympics in the same year. While I don’t think he’s a lock to make the team, I think it’s down to formalities as he is the top prospect in the system, and this team is ready for him to make an impact.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

A highly skilled, crafty player, Johnson has some of the best hands of any prospect in the world. He’s not a straight ahead, high-end speedster; instead he uses his edgework at an elite level to turn his body and allow himself time and space. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, the puck seeming to find him just as he’s ready for it. He has tremendous vision and passing ability, and it’s easy to see him as a future top-six NHL forward … perhaps even this season. The qualities he brings to the rink are a rare mix, that you only see in some of the most elite players in the game. Whether or not he can get to that level, is the only question.

Three Keys to Success

  1. Don’t try to do too much. There was a time when a player like this would come to Columbus, with the burden of being THE guy. That’s not the case this time, this is a pretty good team. Kent would be best suited to play his game and use his line-mates, as he’s done at every other level.
  2. Those line-mates. I think it’s probable that he slots in somewhere on a second or third line. A lot of his success (or failure) will depend on who the team plays with him. He will be best utilized alongside a shooter, and maybe a crafty veteran who can lead the way.
  3. Finish. He was so dominant at the World Juniors tournament this month, that it’s hard to believe he had just 9 points in 7 games. He could have doubled that total and nobody would have been surprised – he was that good. Finishing those chances, is the next step.

2022-23 Expectation: Steal the show.

Trevor Zegras wowed the NHL last season with his puck handling abilities, and Kent Johnson is a similar type of player. If he can have the kind of success and production that Zegras had last year, he will also be a Calder Trophy finalist and could become one of the young stars of the NHL in a similar mold. He certainly has the skill, and he will have the support in Columbus to get it done. If he can settle into that middle-six role and play his game, there’s no doubt he’ll make this team better every time he’s on the ice. Read: 2022 Season Preview: Adam Boqvist