Beyond Bloodlines: Johansen Rising

By Eldon MacDonald (edited by @ChrisRalphTHW)

Lucas Johansen: The Next Ones 2016 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

2015-16 Team: #7, Kelowna Rockets

Date of birth: 16-Nov-97

Place of birth: Port Moody, BC

Ht: 6’1  Wt: 174 lbs.

Shoots: Left

Position: Defenseman

NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 1st year eligible

Twitter: @LucasJohansen97

THW The Next Ones Ranking (Midterm): 35

THW War Room Rankings: 28

Other Rankings

  • Consensus: 41
  • McKeens – Apr-16: 28
  • NHL Central Scouting Combined: 31
  • Craig Button (TSN) – Mar-16: 50
  • Corey Pronman: 72

Lucas Johansen, Mr. Momentum Driver

Who is a solid two-way player, has an excellent first pass, is a smooth skater with a hard point shot, has nice hands and mentally processes the game well? It is Ryan Johansen’s (Columbus, 2010 4th overall) little brother, Lucas. He is no longer so little at 6’1”. Yes, he finally makes good after enduring all those years of his big forward brother coming down on him. It looks like there will be two NHL players in the Johansen family.

5 Reasons Why Lucas Johansen Is First Round Worthy

  • Today’s prototypical NHL defenseman: Today’s game is about quickness – physical and mental. Defensemen with those abilities demand a premium price. Lucas Johansen has those abilities. He has the physical ability to transition from defense to offense (or vice versa) because of his skating agility and edge work, and the mental ability to know when to join the rush or make that nice, crisp outlet pass.
  • Mo man: Lucas Johansen is not an overly flashy player but he can be your mo man. That’s mo as in momentum driver. The reason he is so valuable in delivering momentum to your team is that he transitions so swiftly to offense that he can move the game to your favour. Coaches like that. They like it a lot.
  • Elite understanding of the game: Lucas Johansen has a unique and high-end understanding of the game for a defenseman. It came about because he has been defending himself against an elite NHL forward since he laced his first set of skates. Yes, his brother Ryan was the one that he was defending against.
  • NHL bloodlines matter: NHL bloodlines matter. They matter because it gives a prospect the chance to see on a first hand basis how NHL players are made – the skills to develop, the sacrifices to be made, the training and diet regimen to follow (on and off ice). Lucas Johansen has seen how his brother did it. He knows the path necessary and is well on the way to getting there himself. His surging stock this season does go beyond the bloodlines though.
  • Elite defense factory product: Some teams just know how to develop and bring out the best in a defenseman. The Kelowna Rockets have been that kind of team over the years. Lucas Johansen is the latest elite product to roll off the Rocket assembly line where the quality control is excellent. Previous rollouts include:
    • Duncan Keith: Chicago – 2002 – 54th
    • Josh Gorges: San Jose – Eligible 2002 – Free agent
    • Shea Weber: Nashville – 2003 – 49th
    • Alexander Edler: Vancouver – 2004 – 91st
    • Luke Schenn: Toronto – 2008 – 5th
    • Tyler Myers: Buffalo – 2008 – 12th
    • Tyson Barrie: Colorado – 2009 – 64th
    • Damon Severson: New Jersey – 2012 – 60th
    • Madison Bowey: Washington – 2013 – 53rd

NHL’s Adam Kimelman discussed this on last spring:


  • Skating and transition to offense: Agile, fluid, strong balance, quick transition to offense
  • Vision and Hockey IQ: High-end awareness of what is happening the game, the mental vision to see plays develop and the hockey sense to know how to take advantage of what is there
  • Shot: Hard slapper from the point, excellent release on his wrister, sees the lanes well to know when to take the shot
  • Passing: Excels on the breakout with fine, crisp passes
  • Power play: Has the shot, good on the pinch, handles the puck well, good hands


  • Active stick: Big time user of the stick to steer the puck or even his opponents out of harm’s way
  • Gap control and positioning: Good at clogging the lanes, adept at keeping the bad guys in front of him and moving them to the side. Plays a high-end positional game.
  • Skating and transition to defense: His skating makes his transition to defense effortless and his hockey sense lets know when to transition.
  • All weather: Plays in all the situations, PK, PP, and 5 on 5
  • Sound: Overall, he is very sound in the defensive zone and can be relied on to get the puck out

Summary Comment

  • Makes good: Little brother makes good; Mr. Momentum Driver looks to be a defenseman scouting teams will push their superiors to take off the board, perhaps earlier than projected.

NHL Draft Projection

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Lucas Johansen is still very much a work in process or as I prefer to put it, “a work in progress.” He still is under-strengthened, particularly in the lower body, and needs to become more physical and develop an edge to his game. However, he is still only 174 lbs. at 6’1’. As he gains more weight and strength, the other parts of his game are likely to improve exponentially, namely his acceleration and physical play.  I am a big fan of Lucas Johansen because I foresee a lot more progress ahead and also because Lucas has already shown us that he has the basis to be today’s prototypical NHL defenseman – quickness in physicality and the mental processing of the game, high-end skating, high-end transition, high-end hockey awareness to find the lanes for both shooting and passing. Lucas Johansen is not an overly flashy player but I believe NHL teams will easily see the NHL projection in him and select him in the 25 to 45 range.


“He comes from the defenseman factory in Kelowna, so he’s got that in his favour there. (According to an article published last March, the Rockets had 11 different defensemen on opening-night rosters for NHL clubs last season.)But his game is growing, it’s going in the right direction. He’s on an upward trend so the projection should be he’ll continue and chances are he’ll move up as the year continues.”

Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting at


“Lucas is a really good skater, four-way mobility, he can stop/start quickly, he can skate backwards very well, very agile and fluid mover with his crossovers and his lateral movement and crisp on his edges. He is going to be good in puck retrieval, effective in leading and joining the rush, advancing the puck. He has good vision and passing ability. He is not a very physical defenseman, has a tendency to be more of a stick-check, play the puck kind of defensemen. Has to get better in the way he processes the game. He has higher offensive upside and could be a player who comes off the board earlier.”

Kirk Luedeke of the Scouting Report at


“A responsible defender focused on establishing sound positions while defending his goal.Effective at gaining a positional edge and tying up an opponents’ stick and body, aided by an extra long blade on his stick, albeit is not a physical presence.Maintains solid gap control backing up defending the rush. Does a good job of closing gaps, but can get overaggressive at times, notably in the neutral zone. However, he is strong and alert in recovery – gets back to defend his net and stays aware of situations by looking around – doesn’t ‘puck watch’.”

– Iain Morrell at


“Johansen is a mobile defenseman that skates effortlessly around the ice, and plays soundly in his own end. He may not play physically, but makes up for it with intelligence and understanding of the game. He plays with his head up, reading plays and being able to anticipate and obstruct opponent’s movements. He is defensively sound in his own end, and plays a solid positional game. He’s a great puck moving defenseman with good vision and poise. He finds open lanes and makes smart outlet passes for quick transitions. He also likes to pinch and get involved in the rush. In fact at times he gets hesitant, holds himself back, and makes smart reads on when to engage in the offensive zone and join the rush. He’s still young, but will surely develop physically to add strength, speed, and more confidence to his growing skill set.”

– Kevin Olexson at


“I see Johansen making a late push and being selected towards the end of the first round and becoming the next NHL defenseman to come from Kelowna. He’s definitely on the radar for Canada’s WJC team and I think will not only make that team, but also use it as a springboard to show he’s more than just “Ryan’s brother”.

Conor Jennings at



  • Quickness – Mental and physical
  • Skating
  • Vision and Hockey IQ
  • Student of the game
  • Transition game
  • First pass and passing game
  • Shot
  • Hands
  • Two way game
  • Active stick


Under Construction (Improvements to Make)

  • Strength, particularly lower body
  • Physicality
  • Edge


NHL Potential  

Lucas Johansen has the potential to develop into a super-solid 3rd or 4th defenseman in the NHL. He could also see lots of time on the special teams, both the PK and PP. He is definitely up for the second power play unit. I could also see him develop into the role of the set-up on the top power play unit because he sees the lanes and can see the play develop so well. His most likely potential is to develop into a mobile second unit blueliner reminiscent of the style of play that Jeff Petry brings to Montreal. Has he the potential to be an elite defenseman in the NHL? Yes, however, he will likely have to bring a lot more physical play and develop an edge to his game for that to be possible.


Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk = 1.5/5   Reward = 4/5                    


Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offensive = 7.5/10   Defensive = 7.5/10



  • Played in 2015-16 – BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
  • WHL Champion 2014-15


Interview/Profile Links



Profile – Link here


THW’s War Room Top 210 NHL Draft Rankings (May Edition)


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2016 NHL Draft Guide: The Next Ones