Blue Jackets Select Kent Johnson With Fifth Pick in 2021 NHL Draft

By Jacob Nitzberg on July 23, 2021 at 8:52 pm
Kent Johnson skating.
University of Michigan

The fifth pick is in.

It's forward Kent Johnson, who played at Michigan this past year. He was named to the Big-10 All-Rookie Team after posting 9-18-27 in 26 games in his freshman season at Michigan in 2020-21.

He's a skillful player with offensive upside. It made sense for the Blue Jackets to draft a forward after their moves today, where they acquired defensemen Jake Bean and Adam Boqvist from Carolina and Chicago, respectively. 

Johnson is an 18-year-old from North Vancouver, British Columbia. He's drawn several comparisons to Calgary Flames star Johnny Gaudreau for not only his style of play, but as a guy who - at least at one point - was undersized. At 6'1", Johnson has recently went through a growth spurt and passed Gaudreau by four inches. However, having spent the last several years as an undersized kid, he's developed an elusive, crafty style of play. 

"It (the growth spurt) was gradual and I had a stick in my hand basically every day, so I never really lost my coordination" Johnson told The Athletic. "Growing up, getting taller; I didn't have to change the way I play. I noticed that it made a few things better for me.

"I've got more reach and I'm definitely able to lean on guys a bit more."

Johnson will not make his NHL debut this year, as he's heading back to Michigan to continue his collegiate career. He'll be a sophomore for the upcoming season, but with a productive second for the Wolverines, he could be on the fast track to don a Blue Jackets sweater.