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The third overall pick of the 2017 USHL Futures Draft, Ryan Johnson is the son of long-time Los Angles Kings forward, and current Kings development coach, Craig Johnson. Born in Irvine, California, he is another of a long group of prospects coming from the southern United States. Prior to joining the USHL, Johnson skated with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks 16U program. Playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede, Johnson put up six goals and 19 assists for 25 points in 54 games this season. He also added one goal and one assist in seven playoff games. It was enough to earn Johnson a spot on the USHL All-Rookie Team.
Johnson also played for Team USA at the World Junior A Hockey Championships. He is committed to attend the University of Minnesota and play for the Golden Gophers next season. This follows in the footsteps of his father.
Ryan Johnson Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born July 24th, 2001 — Irvine, California
Height 6’0″ — Weight 173 lbs [183 cm / 78 kg]
Johnson is an outstanding skater. His first few steps and acceleration are close to an elite level of this draft class. He moves well in both directions, with a silky-smooth stride that looks like he is gliding above the ice. The overall top end speed could improve a bit but is still very good. From here Johnson adds in excellent footwork, strong agility, edgework, and pivots. This gives Johnson the ability to transition quickly from offence to defence or vice-versa. Johnson is able to pinch in the offensive zone and still get back defensively to break up plays in his own end. He is a bit undersized and needs to add muscle to his frame. This will help Johnson to fight through checks and help him in battles along the boards or in front of the net.
Johnson’s game is based on his skating ability and smarts. He can carry the puck out of dangerous areas in his own end, avoiding forecheckers and starting the rush. He is also very good at generating clean zone entries with his smarts and quick feet. His skating and stickhandling skills allow Johnson to generate offence off the rush.
Johnson’s offensive skills are inconsistent. There are times when he can make every pass, whether its the long home-run style pass to a breaking forward or setting things up on the power play. However, there are other games when he can’t seem to complete a pass for long periods of time. His slap shot also needs work, as it lacks power at this point. Johnson is more confident sneaking down from the point and letting off a wrist shot.
Johnson is a very smart player and this helps him to play strong defence. He keeps himself between his man and the net, forcing opponents to the outside and into less dangerous areas of the ice. Johnson has a very quick stick. He is very good at poke-checking or stealing the puck away from an opponent. His positioning is very well-developed for his age as Johnson takes away passing lanes. Johnson takes good angles on his opponents, effectively taking away their time and space. Johnson is not a physical player at this point. The lack of muscle on his frame could be the reason for this. There is some hope he will be more gritty with time.
Projection and Comparison
Johnson will need time to develop. He needs to add muscle to his frame in order to play at the pro level. Heading the NCAA route is an advantage here as the college schedule is lighter than junior leagues and will give him plenty of time in the weight room. He will also need to develop a bit of his offensive game to truly be a top pair defender. Even if the offence doesn’t develop, his skating and his defensive game help him grow into a second pair defender. Johnson’s style resembles a bigger version of Victor Mete. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Ryan Johnson that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Main Photo via Sioux Falls Stampede / USHL.