Minnesota Duluth got some rough news on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they have signed free agent rising sophomore forward Adam Johnson to a two-year entry-level contract, after Johnson attended the Penguins’ summer development camp last week.
Johnson grew up in the Northland, a native of Hibbing, Minnesota, but took the long route to UMD after committing to the Bulldogs as a sophomore. He played in the USHL until aging out of juniors, and came into college as an impact player as a freshman two seasons ago.
Last year, Johnson was the second-leading scorer on the national runner-up Bulldogs, posting 18-19-37 in 42 games.
We ranked Johnson as one of the ten best NHL free agents in college hockey last season, and the 87th-best overall NHL prospect in the NCAA:
Johnson was a prospect that drew serious attention from NHL Central Scouting in his first year of NHL Draft eligibility, way back in 2012, due in large part to his explosive skating ability. But ultimately teams backed off because of a lack of physical maturity and a lack of toughness he showed playing against weak high school competition.
Five years later, two years of junior hockey and two years in college hockey has really matured Johnson’s game. He has filled out his frame a bit and plays a much heavier game while still maintaining that explosive quickness. He has the tools to be a very effective winger at the NHL level.