2020-21 Team: Michigan Wolverines
Date of Birth: Oct. 18, 2002
Place of Birth: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 165 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 3rd (amongst NA skaters)
- FC Hockey: 8th
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 7th
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 13th
- The Hockey Writers (Zator): 3rd
- Sportsnet (Cosentino): 8th
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. The perfect play that I find shows all of his strengths was when he scored a highlight-reel goal versus the University of Minnesota. He picked up speed in the neutral zone, attacked the open lane, deked the defender to the outside, and roofed the puck over the goalie’s shoulder.
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.
Kent Johnson – 2021 NHL Draft Projection
Johnson was given an A ranking by NHL Central Scouting and I truly believe it is well deserved. Johnson is most likely going to go top 10 and could be in the NHL in two to three seasons from now. I imagine he goes back to Michigan for at least another year and continues to develop his game but he has all the skills that a team will want in a top-end player.
“Johnson’s skating is excellent; his stride is quick and agile, and he can separate himself from opponents on the rush. It is also very fluid, and Johnson’s edges allow him to change directions quickly and spin off of checking opponents to avoid contact in high traffic. He might benefit from a little bit more explosiveness in his first few steps, but by no means will it hold Johnson back at the next levels. As a multifaceted center who can play both special teams, it remains to be seen exactly where Johnson will slot into the Wolverines lineup this fall — and if he is deployed down the middle. Though definitely not undersized, Johnson will need to put on some weight as he prepares for older and stronger opponents next season to be a consistently dominant and dangerous producer in college hockey.” – Lauren Kelly/Raw Charge
“Johnson is as creative as they come. Whether it’s passing and shooting between his legs, lacrosse moves, or anything else you’d find on a highlight reel, if you can dream it, he can probably do it. Michigan coach Mel Pearson has a longstanding philosophy of allowing his skilled players the freedom to exercise their creativity, and Johnson has undoubtedly benefited from that thus far. More of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, Johnson’s passing stands out on almost every shift, whether he’s sending a spin pass to a teammate wide open in the slot or finding a lane between three defenders.” – Bailey Johnson/Smaht Scouting
- Two-way play
- Defensive positioning
Under Construction – Improvement to Make
- Needs to put on more weight
Johnson has all the tools a team wants in a future top-six player. It is impossible to predict what impact he will make at the NHL level but he could very well turn into a 70 to 80-point player at the NHL level. The team that drafts him will be getting a great player.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 8.5/10, Defense – 8/10
In 2018-19, Johnson was named to the BCHL All-Rookie Team as a member of the Trail Smoke Eaters. In 2019-20, still as a member of the Eaters, he was named a BCHL First-Team All-Star, led the league in goals and assists, was named the BCHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player (Bob Fenton Trophy), was named the BCHL’s Most Valuable Player (Vern Dye Memorial Trophy), was the BCHL’s Top Scorer (Brett Hull Trophy) and was named Canadian Junior Hockey League Top Forward.