The Columbus Blue Jackets brought top forward prospect Kent Johnson back up from the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters on Thursday, per a team release. To make room on the roster, defenseman Damon Severson has been placed on injured reserve. He is one week into a six-week recovery timeline from an oblique injury.
This season started on a rough note for Johnson, Columbus’ fifth-overall pick in the 2021 draft. He was scratched by head coach Pascal Vincent for the team’s season opener and received minimal ice time when reinstated into the lineup, posting three points in eight games while averaging 12:49 per contest.
After being a healthy scratch twice in the Blue Jackets’ first ten games, there was another blow: Columbus opted to send him to the minors for the first time in his career. It was an unexpected move after the 21-year-old notched 16 goals and 40 points in 79 games during his rookie season last year.
The versatile, skillful forward quickly showed he didn’t belong at a lower level of play. Through ten games with the Monsters, Johnson registered five goals and ten assists for 15 points, positioning himself as second on the team in points despite missing seven out of 17 games while on the NHL roster.
In the final season of his entry-level contract, Johnson will make his case to stay on the Blue Jackets roster for the remainder of the season. The pending restricted free agent will not have arbitration rights next summer and is owed a qualifying offer of $874,125.
In his draft year, Elite Prospects labeled Johnson an “artist” with the puck and listed him as the tenth-best prospect available. Dobber Prospects lists Johnson as the second-best forward prospect in the Columbus system behind 2023 third-overall pick Adam Fantilli, who has a respectable ten points in 24 games to kick off his NHL career.
Severson’s recovery remains status quo as he’s not expected to begin skating for a while yet. He remains on track to return to the lineup around New Year’s Day.