2020-21 Team: Windsor Spitfires
Date of Birth: May 14, 2003
Place of Birth: Leaside, Ontario
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 176 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
NHL Central Scouting: 16th among North American skaters
Peter Baracchini’s Top 100 March: 92nd
Bob McKenzie, TSN: 52nd
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.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
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.
When it comes to his skating ability, Johnston lacks that top-flight speed, but can still skate well enough to get to the next level and be successful. He is also exceptionally smart on the ice and knows where to be and when to be there. He doesn’t need the top flight speed to get to where he is going because he takes the right path to get there. As the old adage says, work smarter and not harder.
There are still things that need to be worked on for Johnston, however. He could use some work on his shot to become a more dangerous goal scorer and would stand to benefit should he add some more finesse to his game. He’s not yet a finished product and will likely take some time before he is capable of competing every night in the NHL especially after missing the entire 2020-21 season, but he should be able to get to that level at some point.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Wyatt Johnston – NHL Draft Projection
Most everyone who has put together their rankings has put Johnston somewhere in the early to mid-second round, a place where he should end up going. Others have been slightly more optimistic in saying he could potentially go towards the end of the first round, but this might end up being a little bit aggressive.
“It’s all details: supporting the puck, working give-and-goes, and making well-timed movements into space. He’s already an advanced defensive player in the OHL, linking together breaks up and retrievals into set-ups for teammates.” – Mitch Brown, Elite Prospects
“I think he’s going to be so great. You have seen him move up through the lineup, you have seen the coaches trust him a little more throughout the [U18] tournament and I think he’s going to be sneaky good. He’s going to be one of those guys that goes late in the first round, maybe early second round and in three or four years, people are going to be wondering where this player came from.” – Tate Harris, The O Show
- Decent skating ability
- Hockey IQ
- Defensively sound
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Top speed
Johnston likely isn’t a player that is going to come into the NHL and be a star, but he looks like a player that can fill a role many teams need to fill, a physical player in the bottom six that can do the little things. He won’t set the world on fire with his scoring ability or his skating, but he will go to the front of the net and screen the goalie for a shot from the point, he will block a shot or lay a hit when needed, and he will make plays that help your team win the game. Nothing overly special, but an important cog in the machine.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 3/5
Johnston hasn’t picked up many awards in his hockey-playing days. The only one to his name comes from this year’s U18 World Championship in Texas where he took home a gold medal playing with Team Canada.