Thanks to everyone who voted for this year’s Top 25 Under 25 ranking. We had 102 submissions from Columbus Blue Jackets fans. We have counted down the 25 highest voted players over last month and have now reached the Top 5. Up next: Kent Johnson.
#5: Kent Johnson
5th out of 38 eligible players
Writer Rank: 4
Reader Rank: 7
Highest placement: 1 (1 vote)
Most common placement: 3 & 6 (12 votes)
2019 Rank: N/A
Birthdate: October 18, 2002
Birthplace: Port Moody, British Columbia
Weight: 168 lbs
Acquired: Drafted by the Blue Jackets in Round 1 (5th overall) of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft
Kent Johnson spent last season at, and was drafted out of, the powerhouse NCAA program that is Michigan hockey. As a freshman, he tallied 9 goals and 18 assists in 26 games. Johnson spent most of the season on the wing next to Matty Beniers. It’ll be interesting to see if head coach Mel Pearson sticks with those lines next season or begins to work Johnson in at center.
Johnson will return to Michigan for the upcoming season along with teammates Matty Beniers, Owen Power, and newcomer Luke Hughes. To say that lineup is stacked would be an understatement. The continued opportunity to play with other top NHL prospects should only aid in his development.
The Blue Jackets development staff likely wants the flashy forward to focus on a few areas of his game: skating, center defensive responsibilities, and becoming physically stronger. The natural offensive and creative abilities ooze out of Johnson, so there are no worries there. It’s no secret that the Blue Jackets want Johnson to be a center and if NHL center duties are in his future he’ll need to continue to improve the other parts of his game.
For those of you in Columbus, you can catch Johnson in action against Ohio State on December 10th and December 11th.
Johnson has dynamic skill and playmaking ability. A lot of his puck touches look unique from other players on the ice, with the ability to make between-the-legs and behind-the-back plays look routine. He’s a very creative playmaker who can make difficult plays in small areas consistently but can overcomplicate at times. Johnson has a decent wrist shot, which he showed more in junior than college. - Corey Pronman, The Athletic
He is one of the most creative offensive talents in the draft, terrorizing opposing defenders with elite puck handling skills and vision but can sometimes rely on his skill too much, causing him to force low-percentage plays. Johnson’s skating isn’t quite on par with the rest of his skillset, however, and he will need to add some explosiveness to his stride as he climbs the ranks and defenders become less susceptible to his dynamic puck skills. He also has a tendency to play on the perimeter a bit too much at times and adding strength to his slight frame in the coming years will improve his ability to play through traffic once he reaches the NHL. - Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects