Kent Johnson Continues To Dazzle In His First Full Season With The Columbus Blue Jackets

By Ed Francis on December 5, 2022 at 1:45 pm
Kent Johnson had another solid effort in the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, and his steady improvement is hard to ignore.
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Kent Johnson ranks third amongst Columbus Blue Jackets forwards in goals scored, assists, and points.

And he's doing so ranked outside of the top ten in time on ice.

Not bad for a guy who can't legally drink until the beginning of next season.

The 20-year-old continued his phenomenal season with another goal in Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. It was Johnson's sixth goal of the season to pair with seven assists and a total of 13 points. 

It was also a goal that was a product of knowing exactly where to be on the ice.

The goal was Johnson's fourth point in his last four games and gave him at least one point in 12 of his 20 games this season. In other words, Johnson is showing up in the box score in 60% of the games he plays in.

The 6-7-13 stat line puts Johnson on pace for a 21-25-46 rookie season, and that's missing three games so far. If you project from only the game he's played in, that stat line would be bumped up to 25-29-54. 

Now consider this: with an average time on ice of just 12:43, Johnson ranks 11th in the team in the category. There are just two skaters — Mathieu Olivier and Liam Foudy — who have played in six games or more and average less ice time than Johnson.

If Johnson were to see the same ice time as, say, Johnny Gaudreau, his stat line would project to — and make sure you're sitting down for this — 39 goals, 45 assists, 84 points over 82 games. That would be the second best season for a Columbus skater in franchise history, bested only by the 87-point season Artemi Panarin had in 2018-19. 

Let's reel it in a bit — it's unlikely that Johnson would produce at the same rate if he were seeing Gaudreau's 19:51 per game. Still, Johnson's 3.07 points per 60 is second on the team behind Gaudreau's 3.42, and both of them are well ahead of any other name on the list. Boone Jenner checks in at third, at 2.33. 

There's still a load of learning to do for Johnson — he leads the team in giveaways per 60 minutes, for example. To some degree, that's okay. Crafty playmakers are, by nature, more prone to give the puck away. But he also leads the team in defensive zone giveaways (per 60), so there's still plenty of room to improve on the defensive end.

But this is all to be expected for someone who hasn't been a teenager for all of six weeks. Johnson is showing improvement with what seems like each game, and is quickly proving that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen's crew knew exactly what they were doing when they took him fifth overall in the 2021 NHL Draft.

In a season that appeared lost by Thanksgiving, the only question now is when Johnson will see enough ice time to truly showcase his abilities. 

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