2021 NHL Draft Profile: Kent Johnson

Now that the Blackhawks have officially posted their list of protected players for the expansion draft, there are a couple more names for us to consider before Friday’s first round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

We’re leaning to the Blackhawks taking a forward with their pick (11th overall). Thus far, we have discussed forwards Matthew Coronado, Chaz Lucius, Mason McTavish, Aatu Raty and Brennan Othmann, Cole Sillinger, Zachary Bolduc and Fabian Lysell. Now, let’s look at a center from the college ranks.

Kent Johnson
6-1 / 165

Ranked #3 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #8 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #15 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #14 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #9 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #8 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #9 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #12 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #10 by SMAHT SCOUTING

From Corey Pronman (The Athletic)

#6 overall prospect
Skating: Below-average
Puck Skills: Elite
Hockey Sense: Average
Compete: Average

“Johnson is the player you want to know about in this year’s draft in terms of dynamic skill and playmaking ability. A lot of his puck touches look unique from other players on the ice, with the ability to make between-the-legs and behind-the-back plays look routine. He’s a very creative playmaker who can make difficult plays in small areas consistently but can overcomplicate at times. Johnson has a decent wrist shot, which he showed more in junior than college. His game can lack pace and he’s not that hard to play against, but I wouldn’t call him soft either. In a sentence, Johnson projects as a top-line NHL forward, likely on the wing, who has the most star potential in the draft but also has the most significant physical drawbacks of the top prospects.”

From Chris Peters’ Hockey Sense

#6 overall prospect
“One of the most creative, gifted puck handlers in this class, Johnson is a player with so many more options than the average forward. He’s got the skill to beat defenders one-on-one, but mixes that with poise and patience to let the game come to him and exploit the openings that he finds just by holding onto the puck. The game seems to slow down for Johnson when he has the puck on his stick and it makes him one of the more dangerous forwards in this draft. A legitimate shot-pass threat, he’s always looking for the best play he can make.

“Though he can play center, I don’t think there’s enough defensive value to comfortably project him there. His dynamic talent flourished on the wing last season and can maximize his offensive potential there. Johnson still needs to add some more physical strength, but the skill he has makes him such a difficult player to stop.”

From LastWordonHockey.com

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.

Offensive Game
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.

Defensive Game
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 defense 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 center at the NHL level. He mostly played left wing as a freshman, but will likely transition back to center 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.

23 thoughts on “2021 NHL Draft Profile: Kent Johnson

  • July 19, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    Well either he’s a below average skater or a real good skater depending on who looks at him. Seems like another Nick Schmaltz.

  • July 19, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    If he drops to the Hawks I would run to the podium to make his selection.

  • July 19, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    From what I’ve seen Johnson has puck skills and creativity that only exist in Schmaltz’s daydreams

    I think there’s a real chance Johnson falls to #11 in which case the Hawks should take him

    If not him then Edvinsson who could also fall to 11 and if not either of those two then one of the the two goalies – that’s where I am

    All four of those players have the potential to be difference makers/elite players – not saying they will reach that potential but if you can get a young player with that kind of potential at 11 I think you take him – any of those 4 I mean

  • July 19, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    The reason why I said Schmaltz is when he was here he did everything but shoot the puck.

  • July 19, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Who is writing this stuff….below average skater, but then again….he is a very good skater ?? Has Dr. Fauci joined the writing staff ??

  • July 19, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Those “writing this stuff” are the authors/scouts whose names are attached to the reports…

  • July 19, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    when I see below average skating, I think of Strome trying to get moving up to full speed, I do not think of Kent Johnson..he is not a below average skater at all..not sure how Pronman defines that, but if it’s based on straight line speed or ability to accelerate , I disagree with that assessment..Peters’ assessment is more accurate..Johnson on the half – wall will give Hawks fans shades of Kane..that’s how creative and elite his puck skills are, especially on the pp with open ice..if he drops to 11, you sprint to turn his name in..he is the definition of upside, especially if you have a chance to draft him outside of the top 10..I would be very surprised if 10 teams pass on him, but I’ll be ecstatic to be wrong..going to spend the next few days hoping that a few of the GMs drafting above us fall in love with Lucius, Sillinger , and either goalie..then the Hawks will have a shot..

    @hammer time..Johnson is a much, much better prospect in terms of his puck skills and ability to create on the ice than Schmaltz..think closer to Johnny Gaudreau in terms of his puck skills and playmaking(not Gaudreau’s scoring ability tho..)

  • July 19, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    I thought this latest ranking from Bob McKenzie was interesting especially since he takes a consensus amongst 10 different scouts

    Any of the players listed #9 to 15 could end up a Hawk

    #9 Kent Johnson
    #10 Chaz Lucius
    #11 Cole Sillinger
    #12 Jesper Wallstaedt
    #13 Matthew Coronato
    #14 Fabian Lysell
    #15 Sebastien Cossa

    Simon Edvinsson according to McKenzie is likely to go higher – anywhere from 2 to 9

  • July 19, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    Wraparound. I was told this weekend. No on Lucius and No on Lysell. But Hawks considering goalies. Hmmm.

  • July 19, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    Craig – I heard Mark Kelley the other day on a podcast and he talked about both goalies – seemed there’s interest there

    I’ve come around to thinking that unless a more highly rated player they want falls to them like Johnson say then one of the two goalies would be a good choice

  • July 20, 2021 at 1:12 am

    I think if Johnson falls to 11, the Hawks will be all over him. Assuming that doesn’t happen, I think the Hawks will take Wallstedt at 11 if he’s there..assuming he goes earlier than 11, which may happen, then I feel like they’ll take Sillinger..he feels like the type of player the Hawks would like, especially since he can stick at center..so we’re going to get a really solid player at 11..just depends what happens 1-10..

  • July 20, 2021 at 7:50 am

    Slayer – Sillinger would be a good choice as well although I wouldn’t rule out Cossa over him

  • July 20, 2021 at 9:26 am

    Personal note from CI: Craig Nigrelli’s comment at 9:12 PM CT on July 19 was the 100,000th comment in the history of this site. Pretty cool milestone. I’m gonna reach out to Craig to get him a signed copy of my new Blackhawks book that’s coming out in October to celebrate.

    Thanks to everyone for being part of this community for more than 12 years!

  • July 20, 2021 at 10:40 am

    Wraparound. I was told the Hawks like both goalies. It sounds like they are sold on taking one or the other and NOT a forward.
    However, Stan apparently is pushing harder this week for Seth Jones.
    I have a feeling they will overpay and acquire Jones.

  • July 20, 2021 at 10:59 am

    The only problem w/ the Hawks wanting a goalie is they pick 11th… and both might be gone by then. My prediction is both are off the board, which is why we’re leaning more to an impact forward at 11.

    re: Jones – most rumors around both Jones & Eichel seem to be that the Jackets & Sabres want 4 pieces in the deal, including at least 2 NHL players. Columbus reportedly wants a center in the deal. I would be fine w/ the Hawks sending a package of Strome, Nylander/Kurashev, one of Boqvist/Beaudin/Kalynuk and a conditional pick (tied to him re-signing) to Columbus for him. If they’re hung up on one of Dach/DeBrincat (which has also been rumored) I’m gonna pass and turn my attention to either Dougie Hamilton or one of the other defensemen on the block (Nate Schmidt wouldn’t be a bad option as well).

  • July 20, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    Tab – both goalies going ahead of 11 is one scenario for Johnson dropping to the Hawks

  • July 20, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    This. I like this the most to.

    July 19, 2021 at 12:50 pm
    From what I’ve seen Johnson has puck skills and creativity that only exist in Schmaltz’s daydreams

    I think there’s a real chance Johnson falls to #11 in which case the Hawks should take him

    If not him then Edvinsson who could also fall to 11 and if not either of those two then one of the the two goalies – that’s where I am

    All four of those players have the potential to be difference makers/elite players – not saying they will reach that potential but if you can get a young player with that kind of potential at 11 I think you take him – any of those 4 I mean

  • July 20, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    Been posting here since 2012 didnt know it started only from 2009.

    Good/Glad it was a classy poster like that.

  • July 20, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Any of those options tahts not 77 12 for Jones otherwise get the top pair guys from ufa for free. Worth it if not those guys.

    Any 1st round pick/thats not top 5ish is worth a top pair guy do it. We need two this is only one so do it.

  • July 20, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    Congrats Tab on the 100,000 posts milestone- I’m sure we all appreciate your efforts – I do anyway

  • July 20, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    Congrats Tab. I enjoy the forum and the dialogue.

  • July 21, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    Congrats Tab and Craig.

  • July 21, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    And there was prob only about 100-250 flatlander comments out of the 100000. Thats impressive seeing how much crap is on every other site and I wouldnt even count facebook epsn kind of site as a site/there jus that terrible.

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