Kent Johnson's Late-Season Nine Game Sample Provides View Into What To Look Forward to With Blue Jackets

By Will Chase on June 17, 2022 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets' Kent Johnson during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Kent Johnson is going to be exciting to watch.

Entering his first full NHL season with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2022-23, Johnson's name is one we've heard bandied about ever since being drafted last July.

We got a late-season glimpse of course when he signed his three-year entry-level contract at the conclusion of the Wolverine's Frozen Four run in April.

In nine games Johnson earned three assists so we'll have to wait for his first career goal, but that seems like only a matter of time before he's cracking the scoresheet with such regularity.

Johnson is only 19 years old and already, he's dazzled everywhere he's played. In college at Michigan, the World Juniors, the Olympics, and then his small sample size in the NHL. And those four stops were all in a span of months after being drafted by the Blue Jackets last summer.

"I think to get nine games under my belt felt pretty good, especially later on in those games," Johnson said. "It was huge coming into next year."

Going back a bit further, he scored a lot in the British Columbia Hockey League, where he played with the Trail Smoke Eaters in 2018-19 and 2019-20. In the latter season, he wore the "A" and scored 101 points (41 goals, 60 assists) in 52 games, up from 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 57 games.

In college, Johnson put up 64 points in two seasons with Michigan. He had nine goals and 18 assists in 26 games in 2020-21, and eight goals with 29 assists in 32 games this past season.

Upon signing with the Blue Jackets, he was deployed on the wing but the franchise is open to utilizing him as a center in the future.

Whether he's playing at center or wing, the Blue Jackets need his dynamic skill set to translate into the elite-level potential he's billed as.

It might have raised eyebrows how Johnson was used late in the season when the outcome of the games didn't really affect the team's outcome in the standings. Our own Dan Dukart talked about the allotted ice time for the young players on the Blue Jackets roster, and while Johnson's nine-game sample size is small, he played 98:39 minutes of ice time or about 12:27 per game.

However, in that stretch, he led the team in xGA/60 (1.9) and xGF% (56.47) per Natural Stat Trick.

Again, you expect those numbers to normalize a bit over a full 82-game season but that's certainly something to watch going forward as Johnson receives more ice time and gets inserted more into the team's plans.

It's worth noting that Johnson initially started on the fourth line at Michigan. The small NHL sample will also benefit Johnson as it provides him with a leg up on what he'd like to work on this summer ahead of next season.

"I think definitely getting more explosive in my first few steps and getting stronger, just being able to protect the puck a little better would be really good," Johnson said.

While the 19-year-old had experience playing on four different teams over the last season, he admitted it's a little different going into a dressing room full of guys much older and more experienced.

"It's a little different coming in near the end of the season but I think it'll definitely help a lot and getting to know the guys, familiar faces in camp so that's great," Johnson said.

With all the buzz and excitement surrounding Johnson, he's going to be an exciting name to watch as he becomes more immersed with the team over the next season.

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