With the 5th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets have selected Kent Johnson from the Michigan Wolverines of the NCAA
About Kent Johnson
In a year where there wasn’t a whole lot of consensus throughout the scouting world, Kent Johnson being a top-10 pick felt like a foregone conclusion given his skillset. With a combination of skill, smarts, and hustle, he has star potential at the NHL level. A tremendous skater who can pull off a highlight-reel play and make it look effortless on just about every shift, Johnson has the ability to open up a game offensively. He doesn’t just make a living in the offensive zone either, though, as he’s also a very capable two-way player who actually positions himself well on the defensive side of the puck and can be deployed in all situations.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“One of a handful of freshmen players making an impact for Michigan, Kent Johnson is one of the better players eligible for this year’s upcoming draft. Having played last year in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Trail Smoke Eaters, he managed to score 41 goals and added 60 assists for 101 points in 52 games. In this season with the Wolverines, he has scored 8 goals and added 17 assists for 25 points in 24 games.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
“With the puck on his stick, Johnson is a very dangerous player. He is a very good skater and can pick up speed in the neutral zone and attack open lanes with ease. He has great vision and has formed a dynamic duo with fellow freshman Matty Beniers. He is able to open up passing lanes with his puck handling ability in tight and can find teammates in the shot with ease.
“Johnson is also responsible on the defensive side of the puck as well. He hustles back to help put his defenders when the puck transitions the other way and has good defensive positioning. He plays with an active stick and is good at cutting off passing lanes and keeping opposing players to the outside of the zone, limiting their shot angle. Johnson has played a big role for Michigan and will only continue to grow his game as the season goes on. He is certainly going to boost a team’s prospect pipeline and be a dynamic player in the NHL one day.”
How This Affects the Blue Jackets’ Plans
The Blue Jackets have had one of the busiest offseasons of any NHL team so far this offseason. From trading away Seth Jones, to acquiring Jake Bean and now selecting Johnson fifth overall, it’s been quite the day in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets may not be primed to compete in the short-term, but a retool is already underway and this offseason has proven fruitful so far. Adding Johnson to the team gives the Blue Jackets a player with legitimate No. 1 center potential who can come in one day and be an impactful player.
Gaining some weight could of a long way to filling out Johnson’s 6-foot-1 frame, but that shouldn’t be an issue once he gets into an NHL training room with the Blue Jackets.
It’s unclear how the team will look once Johnson makes the jump to the NHL level, but as it stands, the team seems very excited about having a player they can build a roster around, ideally joining Zach Werenski as a cornerstone piece moving forward.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for seven years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.