Player: Isaac Johnson
Position: Center/Right Wing
Height: 6’2” Weight: 174 lbs.
Team: Des Moines Buccaneers(USHL)
Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 97th among North American skaters
What I Like
Strong on edges
In terms of pure speed, Johnson doesn’t really stand out. He’s probably a below-average straight-line skater. But where he really excels with his skating is with his ability to lean on his edges with good weight shift. He moves east-west much better than most players
Johnson has a heavy wrist shot with the ability to get the puck up and over the goalie quickly. Here’s a couple highlights of him shooting:
Johnson isn’t much of a dangler in open ice, but he does display quick, strong hands around the net that allows him to finish off plays in tight spaces.
What I Don’t Like
Doesn’t create enough shots
Johnson only had 14 goals this season, which is decent, but not spectacular for a first-year draft eligible player in the USHL. It wasn’t for lack of luck either. Johnson finished the year with a 15% shooting percentage, which is slightly above average.
He’s got that great shot, but sometimes struggles to create shooting opportunities for himself. He’s much more of a finisher that relies on teammates to get him the puck than he is a player that creates opportunities for others.
This could said about just about any 18-year-old draft eligible, but Johnson has room to improve on the defensive end of the ice. He isn’t great at providing back pressure when the puck is going the other way up the ice
Most of my complaints come back to the fact that Johnson just isn’t overly fast. He’s got a good frame, so that is something that could potentially be improved once he adds more leg strength, but for now, he just doesn’t up and down the ice well enough to be a consistently dangerous player.
Central Scouting has Johnson somewhere in the fourth-ish round of the Draft and that seems to be the safest bet. Johnson played well enough this past year in the USHL and he shows enough upside as a scorer that he should almost definitely be drafted, but he didn’t quite put up the numbers to ensure he’s selected in the top 90(or I guess 93, now) picks. He’ll likely be taken somewhere in the fourth or fifth round.
Johnson’s future is still up in the air. Most top players from the USHL matriculate to the NCAA ranks, but Johnson has yet to make a college commitment, and playing college hockey may not be an option for him. That’s unfortunate because a few years with a college strength training program could really benefit him in terms of improving his speed. Johnson could head back to the USHL next year, or there is the possibility that he ends up in the WHL. Either way, there should be an increase in his production in his second full season of junior hockey.
Long-term, Johnson has the tools to develop into a decent winger at the pro level, with the upside of potentially playing a second line scoring role, with a third or fourth line role more likely.