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Port Moody's Kent Johnson signs contract to join NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets

Johnson signed an NHL contract just hours after his University of Michigan Wolverines were bounced from the NCAA Frozen Four championship tournament.
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Port Moody's Kent Johnson is expected to join the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday after this college team, the University of Michigan Wolverines, was bounced out of the NCAA Frozen Four championship tournament.

"Hey Kent Johnson, your Michigan Wolverines hockey team just got beat out of the NCAA Frozen Four championship, what are you going to do now?"

That version of the old Disneyland TV commercial that was a staple of sports championship broadcasts for years might be going through the head of the 19-year-old forward from Port Moody who signed a three-year entry level contract with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets today (April 8).

Johnson put his pen to paper less than 12 hours after his college team lost its semifinal game in the NCAA championship tournament in Boston, 3-2 in overtime, to the University of Denver Pioneers.

Johnson was selected fifth overall in the 2021 NHL Draft by the Blue Jackets, but elected to return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore year.

The 19-year-old scored eight goals and added 29 assists in 32 games for the Wolverines this past season and earned an honourable mention for All-Big Ten honours.

He also played for Canada’s national team at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics where he scored a goal and had four assists.

As well, Johnson was part of Team Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships in Edmonton last December that were abruptly called off after some games had been played because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Prior to heading to the University of Michigan, Johnson starred for the BC Hockey League’s Trail Smoke Eaters.

He scored 61 goals and 147 points in 111 games over two seasons there and was named the league’s most valuable players, top scorer and most sportsmanlike player following the 2019-20 campaign.

"He is a highly-skilled and creative player who can bring you out of your seat whenever he’s on the ice," said Blue Jackets’ general manager Jarmo Kekalainen in a team release.

"We’re thrilled that he’s taking the next step in his career and look forward to his growth and contributions as a Blue Jacket for years to come."

Johnson’s not the first player from Port Moody to catch the Blue Jackets’ fancy.

In 2010, the team selected Ryan Johansen with its fourth overall pick in that summer’s entry draft that was held in Los Angeles. He played four seasons in Columbus before he was traded to the Nashville Predators midway through his fifth NHL campaign.

Johnson is expected to join Columbus on Monday (April 11), when he’ll be joined by Michigan teammate Nick Blankenburg.

The defenceman and Wolverines’ captain also signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets for the remainder of the current season.

Current Blue Jacket Zach Werenski is also a Wolverine’s alumnus.

The Wolverines were highly-touted to win its first NCAA championship in 23 years.

Its roster was resplendent with seven players who had been picked in the first round of the NHL draft, including the top overall selection in last summer’s event, defenceman Owen Power, who also turned pro on Friday, signing a three-year entry level deal with the Buffalo Sabres.