Columbus Blue Jackets Kent Johnson is the most polished prospect in franchise history

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The young forward enters training camp with all eyes on him.

The Columbus Blue Jackets drafted Kent Johnson #5 overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. Needing help at both RW (right wings) and C (center), the pick was easy for the Blue Jackets, who lacked at both positions in the organization. Wanting a shot at a National Championship, Johnson opted to return to the University of Michigan. Johnson joined the Blue Jackets for a small sample size peek at the end of last season. As training camp is underway, all eyes are on the young forward.

Kent Johnson enjoyed a solid season at Michigan, where he was the top-line center. In 32 games, Johnson was second on the Wolverines with 37 points. He then joined the Columbus Blue Jackets for less than a hand full of games. This summer, Johnson turned heads again.

Kent Johnson joined Team Canada in the World Junior Championship. Johnson scored three goals, six assists, and nine points in seven games at 19 years old. Johnson hit the gold medal-clinching goal for Team Canada. In World Junior’s, Johnson was often the best player on the ice.

Last week the Columbus Blue Jackets were invited to take place in the Travers City Prospect Tournament by the host Detroit Red Wings. In the three games the Blue Jackets prospects played, Kent Johnson had two goals, five points with seven assists while playing center. Johnson was the best player on the ice and one of the best players in the tournament.

Kent Johnson has foot and hand skills that work together. The elite speed that compliments his foot and hand skills make Johnson a dynamic prospect. When entering the 2021 NHL Draft, Johnson was projected as a 30 goal, 80 point player.

One drawback is that Johnson needs to be stronger in the defensive end, which he took steps in cleaning up at the World Junior Championships and in Travers City. Johnson not only got back on defense but also was more physical. If he is to play center for the Blue Jackets, he will need to be physical as the position demands.

Which brings up the million-dollar question, where will Kent Johnson play in Columbus? In his very short sample size last season Johnson lined up at RW. The Blue Jackets said they viewed him as a center when they drafted Johnson. To drive that home, Johnson centered the Blue Jackets’ top line in Travers City and is currently lined up at center at training camp.

It is hard to see Johnson staying at center when the regular season begins. Although thin at the position, the team has four centers ready to go. The smart move would be to put Johnson at RW, allow him time to adjust to life in the NHL and then move him when he puts on more weight and his game is better rounded.

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