NHL 2010 Top Draft Prospects: Ryan Johansen

Jumping from a 47-game schedule to a 72-game schedule is indeed a huge jump for a young player. Ryan Johansen, who played the 2008-09 season in the British Columbia Hockey League, had a difficult time making that adjustment.

“Around December he looked fatigued,” Portland Winterhawks coach Mike Johnston said in an interview with NHL.com. “He looked like he was waiting for that Christmas break because he needed to recharge his batteries.”

However, the 6-foot-2, 194-pound center was able to rest up over Christmas, and came back to dominate the WHL, putting up 69 points in 71 games. He was second among all WHL rookies with that number.

“I think the biggest change is having to go every day,” Johansen said to NHL.com. “In Junior A we worked out once a week and we really only played games on the weekend. Our schedule (in Portland) is a lot more filled.”

Nonetheless, Johansen was able to get over the change in schedule and after being placed on a line with two other draft prospects in Nino Niederreiter and Brad Ross, Johansen flourished. He helped Ross more than double his point totals from the 2008-09 season, while Niederreiter was able to put up 36 goals on the same line as Johansen.

“He has good on-ice vision and also angles well on the forecheck,” one scout said. “He has the intelligence to play power play as well as penalty kill. He can be shifty and has the ability to beat a defenseman one-on-one. Once he fills out and gains more strength he could turn raw talent into a valuable center at both ends of rink. He has displayed nice playmaking capabilities and this should continue at next level.”

“This kid has a lot of natural ability,” Coach Johnston continued. “His vision on the ice, his puck protection, he sees things on the ice that other players can’t see. He is a very skilled playmaking center.”

Even other players in the league are taking note of Johansen’s special abilities

“He’s a big, strong power forward and extremely skilled and patient with the puck,” one WHL defenseman said. “I can still remember this one play he made, where he came across the blue line, slammed on the brakes and sucked me to him and just made this no-look pass to Nino [Niederreiter] flying around him.”

Johansen moved up to the number ten spot in NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings, but he still has some work to do if he hopes to make an impact immediately in the big league.

“Ryan has a little more physical play to his game,” said Johnston. “When you try to get the puck off him, he’ll hit back. Maybe he doesn’t deliver as many hits. The physical play is when they have the puck. They’re all really physical guys.”

Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com. In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News, he has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him at BergHockey24@gmail.com.

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