After Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin went 1-2 as expected, it didn’t take long for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to unravel into odd-ball lunacy. Players and picks were traded like hockey cards in a playground. Seemingly sure-fire top 5 pick Cam Fowler dropped all the way down to the Anaheim Ducks at No. 12. Perhaps the most surprising moment came when the Columbus Blue Jackets picked Ryan Johansen, though.
Then again, if you ask Johansen, the Blue Jackets showed some serious interest in him during the interview process. Columbus GM Scott Howson apparently was smitten with him, even if scouts weren’t quite as interested.
“I just remember talking to Mr. Howson, and he really enjoyed the first game he saw me play and the first game of playoffs with the Spokane Chiefs. He really liked my style of play,” Johansen said. “I’m a play maker with good hockey sense, good vision, and good puck protection. He likes my style of play.”
Johansen was a bit short of the elite level with scouts and – at a younger age – was a little short in a more literal way. He described his struggles when he was about 16 or 17.
“Well, for me and my Bantam draft, I was 150 pounds and 5′ 9″, so my skating stride was a little out of whack there. I had the baby moose legs going on,” Johansen said. “So once I got to my regular height and started putting on some muscle, I think I gathered my stride a lit bit, and now my skating is at a high level.”
It’s great that Johansen responded to criticism with little more than a shoulder shrug, but there’s no doubt that people will put a little extra pressure on him since he was drafted before more well-regarded prospects. That might end up being his undoing, but if you ask him, the criticism will just make him better.
“Yeah, that kind of stuff gives you motivation when you’re working out, on the ice, improving your game … taking yourself to a higher level,” Johansen said. “For me, I use that as motivation and look at that. When I’m in the gym I’ll push harder. It’s a good feeling when you do stuff like that.”
The Blue Jackets have been lacking a top-end center since the franchise was born. Could Johansen end up being the guy who finally gives their franchise star Rick Nash something to work with?
Just ask him.