In the midst of the Stanley Cup Final, it’s important to remember that the 2021 NHL Entry Draft is less than a month away. While the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens battle to win the Cup, the Vancouver Canucks are finalizing their draft list in hopes of finding players that can one day allow them to do the same.
The Canucks’ prospect pool is shallow at centre, left wing, and right defence, so adding a top-tier prospect to one of those three positions would be ideal. Will the right player be available to the Canucks in the first round?
One of the most electric prospects in the draft happens to be from the Canucks’ backyard: Kent Johnson.
Johnson is ranked anywhere from 6th to 15th by the experts, putting him right in the Canucks’ range at ninth overall. He’s played at both centre and left wing, so he absolutely fills a need in the team’s prospect pool. Most importantly, he might be the best player available when it comes to the Canucks’ turn to pick.
TSN’s Craig Button had the Canucks taking Johnson in his post-draft lottery mock draft, noting, «He’s got a comparable style of play to Elias Pettersson — imaginative, creative, and even slightly built.»
Let’s take a closer look at what makes Johnson such an exciting, dynamic player, but also at some of the weaknesses that might hold him back.
Kent Johnson (ice hockey)
Born: October 18, 2002 (age 19)
Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada
Height: 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight: 181 lb (82 kg; 12 st 13 lb)
NHL team: Columbus Blue Jackets
National team: Canada
NHL Draft: 5th overall, 2021
Columbus Blue Jackets
Playing career: 2022–present
Kent Johnson (born October 18, 2002) is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League (NHL). He played college ice hockey for the University of Michigan. He was drafted fifth overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Junior: During the 2018–19 season in his first season with the Trail Smoke Eaters of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Johnson recorded 20 goals and 26 points in 57 games. During the 2019–20 season, he recorded 41 goals and 60 assists in 52 games and won the Brett Hull Trophy as the league’s leading scorer. Following an outstanding season, he was named BCHL First-Team All-Star, BCHL Most Sportsmanlike Player, BCHL Most Valuable Player, and Canadian Junior Hockey League Forward of the Year.
Collegiate: Johnson began his collegiate career for the Michigan Wolverines during the 2020–21 season. On January 18, 2021, Johnson recorded a career-high five points in a game against Michigan State. He became the first Michigan player to record five points in a game since J. T. Compher on March 18, 2016. He was subsequently named the Big Ten Conference First Star of the Week for the week ending January 13, 2021. He finished his freshman season with nine goals and 18 assists in 26 games. He ranked second in rookie scoring in the Big Ten Conference and third in the nation in rookie points per game. Following the season, he was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team. During the 2021–22 season in his sophomore year, he recorded eight goals and 29 assists in 32 games. He finished fourth in the nation in assists per game and ranked 16th in points per game.
Professional: On July 23, 2021, Johnson was drafted in the first round, fifth overall, by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. On April 8, 2022, Johnson signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets. He made his NHL debut on April 13, 2022, in a game against the Montreal Canadiens.
International play: On July 21, 2021, Johnson was selected to attend Canada’s National Junior Team summer development camp. On January 25, 2022, Johnson was named to Team Canada’s roster as an alternate to represent Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Personal life: Johnson was born to Jay and Anita Johnson. His brother, Kyle, plays hockey for Yale.
Kent Johnson: 2020-21 NCAA Highlights
Kent Johnson, a likely first round selection in the upcoming 2021 NHL Entry Draft, is a British Columbia native who had several extremely productive seasons in the BCHL with the Trail Smoke Eaters before arriving at the University of Michigan to join the Wolverines in 2020-21. In 22 games, the freshman winger has 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists).