Prospect Report - Nick Johnson Enjoying AHL Success
As I write this update on Nick Johnson’s development, it’s hard to not be excited about what the youngster has accomplished so far this year.
As a bit of a background, I feel like I need to note that Johnson nearly averaged a point-per-game in his collegiate career. While Dartmouth wasn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, Johnson played a huge role in what success the team enjoyed. He finished his career at Dartmouth 10th on the all-time scoring list.
Fast forward the start of this year. Johnson had just come off a stretch where he finished the year with Wilkes-Barre and had a brief playoff run. He finished that stretch scoreless.
In what is often a death knell for some players, Johnson was assigned to Wheeling at the start of this season – there was a logjam at forward and Johnson was struggling to adjust. As we reported earlier this year, Johnson took that demotion seriously. During his time with the Nailers, he racked up 14 goals and 10 assists in 18 games for Wheeling. The scoring touch was back.
The injury situation in Pittsburgh made some space available in WB/S. Johnson got the call, and continued to play with a great attitude and a fantastic work ethic.
With increased ice time, Johnson has been on a bit of a hot streak – netting two goals in a win against Hershey two weeks ago, and a goal on Sunday in a 3-0 win against Bridgeport.
Johnson now has 6 goals and 6 assists in 16 AHL games and is a +10 with the Baby Penguins.
That gives Johnson a total number of 36 points in 37 games this year at two different levels.
What makes Johnson so exciting is his skating and stickhandling ability. He’s got a fond respect for the defensive side of hockey, but when he touches the puck, he has the ability to create space and go on thrilling end to end rushes. We posted a video earlier this year courtesy of Eric Politowski that featured Johnson on an end to end rush creating a goal for Luca Caputi.
With the hot start and strong attitude he’s portrayed this year, Johnson’s future is looking up. His board work, work ethic, skating ability, and explosive offensive nature are appealing to even the casual fan.
Making the adjustment from being a top-line producer at the NCAA level to having different roles in the AHL hasn’t been easy, but Johnson is doing it.
What lies in store for the future could be a call-up and cup of tea at the NHL level before we know it.
Johnson’s explosive style of play screams production. When he’s finally let loose and given the minutes, we could see even more.