Signed: Kent Johnson Inks Entry Level Contract; Debut With Columbus Blue Jackets Imminent

By Ed Francis on April 8, 2022 at 2:01 pm
Kent Johnson will make his NHL debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the coming days.
Junfu Han—USA Today Sports
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Kent Johnson has arrived in the National Hockey League.

The Columbus Blue Jackets' first round, fifth overall pick of the 2021 NHL Draft has signed an entry-level contract with the club, and his debut with the team is just days away.

"Kent Johnson is a remarkable young man both on and off the ice," said Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. "He is a highly-skilled and creative player who can bring you out of your seat whenever he's on the ice. We're thrilled that he is taking the next step in his career and look forward to his growth and contributions as a Blue Jacket for years to come."

Signing his first pro contract now, approaching his 20th birthday later this year, means Johnson will burn the first year of his entry-level contract (i.e., no 10-game benchmark).

Johnson, who just completed his sophomore season at the University of Michigan, scored eight goals and added 29 assists in 31 games with the Wolverines this season, while posting an incredible +26 plus/minus. He ends his collegiate career with the maize and blue with 17 goals and 47 assists in a total of 57 regular season games.

Because Johnson is Canadian, the Blue Jackets must secure immigration clearance for him to work in the United States. It's not expected to happen in time for Johnson to make his NHL debut Saturday in Detroit, but Wednesday at home seems likely at this point.

The 19-year-old native of Port Moody, British Columbia was also a member of Team Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics. After originally traveling with the team as an alternate, Johnson played in five games and had one goal and four assists in Canada's shorter-than-expected run in the Olympics.

It's unknown whether or not Columbus will slot Johnson at center right away, or start him out on the wing, but he's likely to see time at both spots for the Blue Jackets over the final nine games. It also remains to be seen who Johnson will be skating with in his debut, though head coach Brad Larsen may want to use the end of this season to see if a particular pairing meshes better than others.

Regardless, the Kent Johnson era is here.

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