2018-19 Team: Sioux Falls Stampede
Date of Birth: July 24, 2001
Place of Birth: Irvine, CA, USA
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 183 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
NHL Central Scouting: 33rd (among NA Skaters)
Future Considerations: 48th
TSN/Bob McKenzie: 30th
Dobber Prospects: 38th
Ryan has hockey in his DNA being the son of Craig Johnson, a veteran of 557 National Hockey League games and the current development coach for the Los Angeles Kings. He is part of a talented group of prospects coming out of the southwest part of the United States thanks to the NHL’s expansion to California and Arizona.
After two solid seasons for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks 16U team in the T1EHL, Johnson was drafted third overall by the Stampede in the 2017 USHL Futures Draft. He scored six goals and added 19 assists, while being a plus-24, in 54 regular season games in 2018-19. He had two goals and eight points in Sioux Fall’s run to the 2019 Clark Cup title.
Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2019 Edition
Johnson’s biggest attribute is his skating ability. He can accelerate to full speed in just a couple of steps and has a smooth, effortless stride that gets him up and down the ice in the blink of an eye. He uses his excellent footwork to avoid the forecheck and start the rush into the offensive end of the ice.
The teenager is also very good in his own end of the rink. His positioning is already at an elite level. He rarely lets his man get in between him and his own goal and tends to keep players to the outside of the ice. Johnson possesses a quick stick, which he uses to cause turnovers and take away passing lanes. He will need to work on getting bigger and stronger, but at just age 17, he will have plenty of time to do that.
Johnson is committed to playing at the University of Minnesota next fall, following in the footsteps of his father.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Ryan Johnson – NHL Draft Projection
While Johnson is ranked 33rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he is the eighth-highest blueliner of the bunch. Johnson will need two to three years of development before he can even worry about turning pro. He should be a mid-to-late second-round pick or he could even fall to the early third round. However, there could be a run on defensemen early in the draft that could shoot him up a team’s draft board earlier than expected.
“Johnson will need time to develop. He needs to add muscle to his frame in order to play at the pro level. Heading the NCAA route is an advantage here as the college schedule is lighter than junior leagues and will give him plenty of time in the weight room. He will also need to develop a bit of his offensive game to truly be a top pair defender. Even if the offense doesn’t develop, his skating and his defensive game help him grow into a second pair defender. Johnson’s style resembles a bigger version of Victor Mete. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.” Ben Kerr/Last Word on Hockey
“Not only does he have a gifted skill set, but he works at it constantly. That’s why he’s had the success he’s had already. He processes the game at a different level. That’s probably his best attribute. He has the ability to dictate play. And Ryan brings a certain intensity to the game. When it’s on, when things are tight, he’s focused and he’s at his best.” Alex Kim, head coach/Anaheim Jr Ducks
“Lightweight mobile new age attacking defenseman with good upside due to his mobility, puck carrying skills and overall awareness. Excellent in transition with the outlet pass or my carrying the mail. His high-end footwork allows him to be aggressive defensively with the confidence in his lateral agility to get back in the mix. Needs to get better in his diagnosis and reaction in his end so he isn’t running around so much, but his feet with eventually settle down and slow the game down. Very good at joining the rush down low, but is careful not to get caught. His long fast strides point to his upside. Almost looks as though he uses the boards to secure the time and space to suddenly explode out at top gear in a series of cuts to surprise and catch teams flat-footed” Bill Placzek/Draft Site
- Great footwork
- Excellent first step, speed
- Good positioning
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Needs better reactions
- Must hit the weight room
If everything goes right for Johnson, many feel he can be an eventual top-pairing defenseman. If his offensive game doesn’t hit its ceiling, his work in the defensive end of the ice is good enough to keep in the NHL as a second or third-pairing blueliner for a long time.
Risk – 2.5/5 | Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7/10 | Defense – 8/10
Johnson’s 45 points for the Anaheim Jr Ducks was the most by any defenseman in the T1EHL U16. He was part of the Gold Medal winning Team USA at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge. His first season in the USHL was a big success as he was named the All-Rookie Team and was a key contributor to Sioux Fall’s Clark Cup championship.