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 “2021 NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Wyatt Johnston Scouting Report.
With the OHL season never starting due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Wyatt Johnston did not have much opportunity to showcase his skills in his draft season. While other top OHL-based prospects joined European teams on loans for the year, Johnston did not head overseas and did not get the opportunity to advance his career. Fortunately, he still made Team Canada for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships in Plano, Texas this spring. Johnston scored two goals and two assists in the seven-game tournament. He also helped Team Canada win the gold medal.
Drafted sixth overall by the Windsor Spitfires in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Johnston had a strong rookie season in 2019-20. He scored 12 goals and 30 points in 53 games. Johnston also played for Team Canada Red at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored two goals and five points in five tournament games.
Johnston came up in the Toronto Marlboros system. In 2018-19 he scored 48 goals and 46 assists for 94 points in 73 games in his last year of Midget-AAA hockey. Johnston’s older sister, Quinn Johnston, is playing university hockey in Kingston as part of the Queen’s Golden Gaels in USports.
Wyatt Johnston Scouting Report
Centre — shoots Right
Born May 14th, 2003 — Toronto, Ontario
Height 6’1″ — Weight 178 lbs [185 cm / 81 kg]
Johnston is a very good skater. He has a good stride and generates very good acceleration. Johnston also has a very good first step. This helps him to win races to loose pucks. He also has the ability to change speeds which can be used as a weapon to fool defenders both with and without the puck. Johnston’s top-end speed is also very good. He can take a defender wide and cut to the net. He also gets in quickly on the forecheck, pressuring opponents into mistakes. Johnston has good edgework and agility. His quick changes of direction allow him to avoid defenders. He has good core strength. This gives him good balance and the ability to win battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Johnston plays a simple but effective offensive game. He is quick to get in on the forecheck and forces opposing defencemen to move the puck quickly or to be plastered into the boards. He also uses his stickhandling ability to control the puck down low in the cycle game. Johnston also wins battles along the boards. Johnston makes quick passes to teammates, keeping control of the puck and extending the time in the offensive zone. He prefers to make the safe pass to keep possession than to try anything too risky. Johnston also gets himself into open ice to take a give-and-go type of pass after giving up the puck. He is smart about finding the openings away from the defence.
Johnston scores most of his goals in tight to the net. He is willing to drive the net both with and without the puck. His soft hands are able to beat goalies in tight, putting the puck in small openings. He is also able to win battles and establish his position in front of the net. This allows him to create havoc in the crease. He tips in shots and pounces on rebounds in front of the net as well. His wrist shot has good power and is accurate, however, he needs to work on developing a quicker release if he wants to beat goalies from further out.
Johnston is also strong in his own end of the rink. He comes back deep in the zone and supports the defence against the cycle game. Johnston uses his size and strength to keep his man to the outside. He also brings effective backpressure, helping the defence against the rush. Johnston is very good positionally. He cuts down passing lanes and uses his body to block shots. Johnston is willing to use his ability to battle on the boards in all three zones. He is also good in the faceoff circle. When a turnover is created, Johnston is able to move the puck up the ice quickly, starting the transition game.
Projection and Comparison
It is a little tough to project Johnston as he missed an entire year of development. However, he showed skills in his first OHL season as well as at the Under-18s that give him the potential to be a solid second-line centre if he can reach his ceiling. His defensive game is good and his work ethic is very high. This will make him a coach’s favourite, no matter where he plays. He will need to focus on developing his offensive game over the next several years. Expect to see Johnston back with the Spitfires next season, taking on a big role in creating offence for the team. His game is reminiscent of Mike Richards, however this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Wyatt Johnston that are available on youtube and Twitter.
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) April 28, 2021
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) April 28, 2021
Wyatt Johnston makes it 1-0 Canada two minutes into the game! #U18Worlds
After not playing all season, Johnston has looks very good through this tournament. pic.twitter.com/TLfokI1Bp8
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) May 3, 2021
— Caitlin Berry (@caitlinsports) September 22, 2019
Logan Stankoven gets his second goal of the game!
— Caitlin Berry (@caitlinsports) November 3, 2019
Wyatt Johnston has been impressive since being given a top six role with the Spits.
Has 10 points in his last 11 games which is impressive for a 16 year old in the OHL. pic.twitter.com/AjnN7i0eTV
— Tate Harris (@tateharris9) January 31, 2020
Check back later for our latest draft article.
Wyatt Johnston Scouting Report Main Photo:
OSHAWA, ON – FEBRUARY 23: Wyatt Johnston #55 of the Windsor Spitfires skates during an OHL game against the Oshawa Generals at the Tribute Communities Centre on February 23, 2020, in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)