The curious development of Columbus Blue Jackets center/winger Kent Johnson

The Columbus Blue Jackets development of Kent Johnson is a curious one Photo Credit: Graham Stokes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every player develops differently. What works for some fails for others. For an organization, it is vital to the well-being of both player and team to find a development program that finds the right way to meet each player in their development in hopes they reach their projections. For the Columbus Blue Jackets, Kent Johnson has a rather lofty projection, yet the way the Blue Jackets are preparing him is curious.

Logging 13:21 minutes of ice time per game is a starting point. Kent Johnson has lined up at both center and both wing spots for the Blue Jackets this season due to a rash of injuries. Yet, it is not the minutes that matter as much as how Columbus is using and not using Johnson.

When the team drafted him, they said they viewed him as a center, yet Johnson has lined up as a winger for much of the season. Even as center Jack Roslovic has struggled with puck management and been a healthy scratch, Johnson, for whatever reason, was placed on the wing in those games and not center.

Head coach Brad Larsen has said that when Johnson scores a goal, he disappears and is nowhere to be found in the defensive end, so he is taken out of games and is not afforded the opportunity to be in a like situation again. Fair enough, but the question then switches to, why not?

How can a player learn and grow into his pre-draft projection if he is not placed back on the ice in a situation he struggled with? Again, what works for some prospects does not work for others. But for a player with the projection of a Kent Johnson, it only makes sense to get him back on the ice and allow him to figure it out.

Most nights as of late, Johnson looks like a player on the verge of figuring it all out. For him to do that, he must be allowed to fail, get up and try again. Would Johnson benefit from a stint in the AHL to work on centering? That does not seem like a wise idea, as again, Johnson is close to putting it all together.

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