Next up on our list of the Blackhawks Top 25 players under the age of 25 in 2016 is Luke Johnson, who comes in at No. 14. Johnson signed an entry-level contract after he won a national title in his junior season at North Dakota and projects as a potential bottom-six forward in the near future.
Birth date: Sept. 19, 1994
Acquired via: Fifth round (134th overall) in 2013 NHL draft
Most recent stop: North Dakota (NCAA)
Size: 5'11, 198 pounds
Johnson signed a three-year entry-level contract April 29 with Chicago following his junior season at North Dakota. The fifth-round draft pick in 2013 left his hometown of Grand Forks, N.D. on top after winning a national title. But Johnson's career didn't end the way he wanted. He suffered a left knee injury in the semifinal against Denver and was unable play in the championship game against Quinnipiac.
There are no reports of what the injury was or the severity of it.
Prior to the injury, Johnson had played in all 127 games during his career at UND and 164 straight games dating back to his final year of junior hockey with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. The last game he missed was Jan. 12, 2013. An ironman player in the Hawks' system? Sounds familiar.
Johnson scored two goals in the national tournament, including the eventual game-winner against Northeastern in the opening round. The center tallied 11 goals and 10 assists in 42 games during his junior season at UND.
One part of Johnson's game he improved on during his final campaign for the Fighting Hawks was faceoffs, according to interview he did with Scott Powers of The Athletic.
I think last year I wasn’t too happy with my numbers there. But I think this year, I think I’ve been put in a role where it’s more of a defensive role and a huge part of that is faceoffs. I’m learning and watching film on NHL guys on how they approach that part of the game. It’s definitely paying off for me. I feel like that’s one of the strong areas of my game.
Once Johnson was cleared to hit the ice again this summer he had some elements to his game the Hawks told him to work on.
Just I think they’re pretty happy with my game and stuff. I think they’d like to see me play with more pace as I mentioned before and the speed and my quickness. It’s definitely something I’m trying to work on and definitely something I’ll be working on this summer.
What's next in 2016-17
Johnson has a shot to make the main roster in a bottom-six, defensive role. If he doesn't he could be one of many options for the Hawks to call up from AHL Rockford as a player who bounces back between the teams on I-90. Johnson won't be without familiar faces in Rockford as former UND teammates Nick Schmaltz and Bryn Chyzyk, who signed a one-year AHL deal, could also see time there.
Second City Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 rankings
No. 15: Tanner Kero
No. 16: Artur Kayumov
No. 17: Carl Dahlstrom
No. 18: Dennis Gilbert
No. 19: Luc Snuggerud
No. 20: Robin Norell
No. 21: Robin Press
No. 22: Dylan Sikura
No. 23: Graham Knott
No. 24: Anthony Louis
No. 25: Roy Radke
Honorable mentions: Radovan Bondra, Joni Tuulola, Mathias From, John Dahlstrom, Lucas Carlsson