Columbus Blue Jackets 2023-24 player review: Kent Johnson

After a productive rookie season in Columbus, Kent Johnson hit the dreaded sophomore slump this year. Unfortunately, he also suffered a season-ending injury late in the year.
Columbus Blue Jackets v San Jose Sharks
Columbus Blue Jackets v San Jose Sharks / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Sometimes with young players, you have to temper expectations.

That is definitely the case for us, with Kent Johnson and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Before the season, we had him written into the top-six for this team. In digital ink.

I even predicted that he had an outside chance to be a 70-point player for this team, this season. But an early season demotion to the AHL reset his development, and he was never fully able to gain footing this year.

After a 16 goal, 40 point rookie season where he played 70 NHL games, Johnson played just over half of this season (42 games) in the NHL.

He managed a meager 6 goals and 16 points in that time - far from our hopes and expectations. He rarely saw top-six minutes.

In fact, he played more than 15 minutes just 7 times this season. He had 9 games where he played fewer than 12 minutes - meaning, fourth line ice time.

Whether it was Pascal Vincent's more demanding coaching style, or system; or Kent just not being up to par with his pace and conditioning, it was an ugly season for a skilled guy who needs to contribute offense to be a difference maker in the NHL.

On a team that needed all the offense it could get, having Johnson post just 16 points was definitely one of the reasons the Blue Jackets struggled this year.

With that said, it wasn't all bad. Johnson vastly improved on the other side of the puck; going from a -19 rookie season, to a more manageable -2 this year. Part of that was due to the limited ice time and matchups, but he did noticeably improve in his overall game.

And, he still has the elite hands and playmaking abilities that made him a first round pick. For these reasons, I do believe he still has a really bright future in the NHL.

Kent suffered a season-ending labral tear on February 28th. This is the same injury that cost us Zach Werenski, Justin Danforth, and Jake Bean last season.

Johnson's recovery timeline has him returning near the start of next season, which is hard because this summer needed to be spent getting stronger. Hopefully he can do that and come in more prepared for a full 82-game campaign next year.

Kent Johnson 2023-24 grade:. Kent Johnson. D. Final season stats: 42 games played, 6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points, 10PiMs, -2, 62 shots. .

It's a harsh grade, but there's no way we could give this season a passing mark for Kent. He didn't take any steps forward, and in fact went the other way. Getting him back on track and playing confident offensive hockey, is vital for this team moving forward.