Blue Jackets’ Prospect’s Report: The Countdown to Kent Johnson

Hockey life is about to come real fast for Columbus Blue Jackets’ top prospect Kent Johnson.

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We are just six days away from the start of the Frozen Four in Boston’s TD Garden. Johnson and his University of Michigan Wolverines are set to play in the first game of the day on Thursday against Denver. The winner will take on the winner of Minnesota State and Minnesota with the National Championship up for grabs.

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For Johnson, this week in Boston begins a stretch that will see his hockey life go into overdrive. His team is just two wins away from their ultimate goal. All of his focus will of course be there.

However the next phase for him will take place either after a loss or if Michigan skates home with the title. The Blue Jackets are watching with eager anticipation.

Johnson’s Potential Debut

It is expected that Johnson will leave Michigan once the season is over and sign on with the Blue Jackets to begin his pro career. The minute Johnson signs, the first year of his ELC would burn off. That’s the least of anyone’s worries at this point.

As for a potential timeline, we know the last possible game this season for Michigan would be Apr 9 should they beat Denver. Assuming Johnson signs right away, there’s a chance he could make his Blue Jackets’ debut in Nationwide Arena on Wednesday Apr 13 against the Montreal Canadiens.

Kent Johnson, Michigan Wolverines
Kent Johnson could make his NHL debut in less than two weeks. (Jonathan Knight, Jonathan Knight Photography)

Should the Wolverines be eliminated on Apr 7, there would be a chance Johnson signs on Friday and then could conceivably play in Detroit on Saturday Apr 9.

Obviously for Johnson, the perfect setup would be win the championship on the 9th, sign his ELC and then make his debut the following Wednesday. He’s more than ready for this opportunity.

Recapping Johnson’s Season

Johnson has had a great season for the Wolverines which included a trip to Beijing to represent Canada at both the World Juniors and Winter Olympics. Here are his season numbers.

  • Michigan: 8-29-37 in 31 games.
  • World Juniors: One goal in two games before the tournament was postponed.
  • Winter Olympics: 1-4-5 in five games.

Recall Johnson was originally in Beijing as an alternate. Then he got an opportunity to jump in and play. Once he got in, he never came out.

The numbers speak for themselves. Johnson will have the most relevant international experience of any Blue Jackets’ prospect coming in ever. It’s easy to see why there is a lot of hype around him.

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So what stands out about Johnson? It’s his playmaking. And it’s the way he thinks the game. The way he is able to process information on the go is something to behold.

Then this season, he has realized a vast improvement on his shot especially his one-timer. He looks for plays but can now finish when given the opportunity.

Of course Johnson needs to get stronger. He’ll have the offseason and beyond to work on that. For him to be able to get a taste of the NHL like this will do him wonders. His arrival will mark the start of the Johnson-Sillinger era, the Blue Jackets’ first two picks in the 2021 draft. To say there is eager anticipation of this would be quite the understatement.

The Time is Near

But first things first. Johnson has National Championship on his mind. Michigan and Denver will play Thursday afternoon at 5 P.M. eastern. The game can be seen on ESPN2.

Johnson’s Wolverines career has at most two games left. Then in a flash, he will be in the NHL. The Blue Jackets might be mired in a losing streak, but business is about to pick up for them in a big way.

Related: Blue Jackets Blasts: Laine, Korpisalo, Offseason & More

Could we see the Johnson/Patrik Laine show this season? You just might. The Blue Jackets’ future is bright. Soon, everyone will see why.