With the 23rd pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Level Draft, the Dallas Stars have selected Wyatt Johnston from the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
About Wyatt Johnston
As a strong, two-way centerman who plays the game right, Wyatt Johnston is the sort of prospect that every franchise would love to have in their system. He is tough, skates well for his size, and knows how to play smart to keep his mistakes to a minimum.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
With some work on his skating and finesse, he could become a middle-six forward who is able to shut down opponents in his own zone while getting scoring chances on the other end of the ice. However, even if offense never becomes a trait of his game plan, he still has the defensive instincts to find success in the NHL.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“If it wasn’t for the U18 World Championship this year, there really wouldn’t be too much in the way of viewing for Wyatt Johnston. He is yet another Ontario Hockey League (OHL) player getting the short end of the stick when it comes to falling down the rankings after not having the chance to prove his worth out on the ice, but he has made good on the opportunities he has been afforded so far.
“Players aren’t usually considered big by hockey standards at 6-foot-1, but that’s exactly what Johnston is. He uses his size to his advantage and is more than comfortable playing a physical style of hockey that makes him feel much more like 6-foot-4 than his actual size. Of course, like any player coming out of junior hockey and heading into the draft at such a young age, he is not at his physical peak and will continue to get bigger and stronger as time goes on, making him even more of a physical threat as he gets older.
“Easily one of the most impressive things about Johnston is his motor and the work that he puts in, especially on the offensive end of the rink. He finds himself in puck battles and never shies away from them and he gets to the front of the net to crash and bang when the opportunity opens up for him. He is a hard-working, high-motor kind of player that teams dream of having in their bottom six, especially in the playoffs. Teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs have been searching for this exact kind of player for years and have been unable to come up with one for the most part. Does this mean that the Maple Leafs should or will take Johnston? Not necessarily, but they could.”
How This Affects the Stars’ Plans
For the Stars, the reason why they selected Johnston is simple. The organization wants to add a top-end, two-way forward to the prospect pool. As we have seen over the years, teams need these sorts of middle-six players to shut down your opponent’s top lines while chipping in a few scoring chances along the way.
Johnston has the potential to become just that for Dallas. While it is unlikely that he will ever become a scoring phenomenon, he will make the Stars harder to play against in the future, as long as they are able to develop his toolkit. That can be a big win for the franchise as they look to build back after a disappointing 2020-21 season.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.