This week’s Bolt Prospect of the Week, as can be seen on Twitter, “is good at the hockey.”
Tyler Johnson doesn’t get the most attention on the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) roster, that title may go to everything-award winner Cory Conacher, top AHL defenseman Mark Barberio, or even everything-championship winner Dustin Tokarski. Such is the “First World Problem” Johnson and Johnson fans must endure with the near embarrassment of riches on the Lightning farm right now.
The native of Spokane, Washington, put his name above all others this week with three goals and two assists in three games. His 13 goals are tops in the AHL and his 21 points in 17 games lead the Crunch. Considering the NHL calibre players playing in the AHL right now due to the NHL lockout, a second-year professional leading the league in anything positive is a noteworthy achievement.
Not bad for an undrafted, undersized center.
The Lightning signed Johnson as a free agent out of WHL Spokane on March 7, 2010, when he was on his way to a 53-goal, 115-point season for the Chiefs. As a rookie last year for the Norfolk Admirals, he was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team after scoring 31 times in 75 games. He added 37 assists for 68 points, which was second among rookies only to the previously mentioned Conacher.
This year, Johnson is on pace to nearly double the 31 goals he scored last season (58). He’s got one of the best shots in the league, amazing wheels, and a talented supporting cast around him. While Conacher got all the awards last year, Johnson could receive the bulk of the hardware in 2012-2013.
Johnson, ranked No. 9 by BoltProspects.com, projects as an undersized, but smart and speedy second line center at the NHL level. He will be a key asset on the penalty kill at the game’s highest level. The key for him is adding weight to his slight frame. But even if he’s never able to get heavier than 185 pounds, it may not matter to the 5’10” center. He’s that good at “the hockey.”
Honorable mention this week: Adam Wilcox (Minnesota, NCAA), Nikita Kucherov (Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL), and J. T. Brown (Syracuse, AHL).
*Pete Choquette contributed to this report.