Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Kent Johnson Scouting Report.
The University of Michigan Wolverines featured a number of top freshmen this season, and winger Kent Johnson is the third member of the team ranked in our top ten prospects for the 2021 NHL Draft. Johnson scored nine goals and added 18 assists for 26 points in 27 games this season. He was named to the Big Ten All-Rookie Team and was an Honourable Mention for the conference All-Star Team. Unfortunately, Johnson and his Wolverines Teammates were forced to withdraw from the Frozen Four Tournament due to a Covid-19 Outbreak amongst the team.
In 2019-20, Johnson was the CJHL’s Top Forward and the BCHL MVP after leading the league in goals, assists, and points. He had 41 goals and 60 assists for 101 points in 52 games for the Trail Smoke Eaters. He also put up seven points in four playoff games. The Port Moody, British Columbia native played for Team Canada Red at the Under-19 World Junior A Hockey Challenge scoring a goal and an assist in four games. His WHL rights are owned by the Everett Silvertips who drafted him 208th overall in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
Kent Johnson Scouting Report
Centre/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born October 18th, 2002 — Port Moody, British Columbia
Height 6’1″ — Weight 163 lbs [185 cm/74 kg]
Johnson is a very good skater. His top-end speed is very good and he reaches it quickly with a few smooth strides. Johnson also has an excellent first step. He wins races to loose pucks. His ability to change speeds also means that if he gets a step on a defender, he can accelerate by on the outside and cut to the net. His agility and edgework are also very good. They allow Johnson to carry the puck effectively through the neutral zone, avoiding defenders and generating clean zone entries. Johnson has a very slight frame though. He needs to add muscle to be stronger on the puck and improve his balance.
Offensively, Johnson is creative and fearless. He will try a number of things that other players wouldn’t even dream of. This includes going for the “Michigan” or “Svechnikov” lacrosse-style goal, or going between his own legs to try and deke an opponent. He has high-end vision and can see the smallest of openings. Johnson is not afraid to try to pass through these tight passing lanes, or saucer it to a teammate. He extends plays, waiting for teammates to get open with his soft hands and puck control. He works the puck on the half-wall of the power play, quarterbacking things for his teammates.
Johnson’s hands allow him to handle the puck and make plays while moving at top speed. He is dangerous off the rush and can beat defenders in one-on-one situations. When defenders back off to respect his speed, he is able to use them as a screen and fire a shot on the net. His wrist shot is powerful and accurate. He gets it off with a very quick release. His ability to change the angle of his stick just before shooting also helps him to fool goaltenders. Johnson needs to get stronger and play in the dirty areas of the ice though. He’s willing to work in those areas, but isn’t always successful against bigger defenders. As he gets stronger, he will win more battles on the boards and establish his position in front of the net.
Johnson is also good in the defensive end of the ice. He does a good job of bringing pack pressure against the rush. Johnson also understands his responsibilities in his own end, supporting the defence down low and working to cut off the cycle. He is good positionally and keeps him body between his man and the net. Johnson uses his stick to cut down passing lanes as well as to poke check opponents. This is another area where lack of muscle on his frame is a detriment right now though, as he can sometimes be pushed around by bigger opponents. When his team is able to retrieve the puck, Johnson is able to quickly transition to offence and creates opportunities by getting up the ice quickly both with and without the puck.
Projection and Comparison
Johnson has the potential to be an effective two-way centre at the NHL level. He mostly played left wing as a freshman, but will likely transition back to centre at some point. Johnson will need to work on his strength and do a little more in the dirty areas of the ice going forward, but his skill level is high and he is willing to go to the tough areas. His results against bigger defenders should improve as he grows into his frame. Another year or two at the NCAA level, with weekend games and plenty of time in the weight room would really help him. His game is reminiscent of Mikael Granlund, but 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 Kent Johnson that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Kent Johnson Scouting Report Main Photo: