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Johnson ranks first in Central Scouting Report

by Jeremy Lemoine / Boston Bruins
With the 2006 NHL Entry Draft coming up on June 24 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, B.C., has jumped into our yearly draft coverage. In this segment, we take a look at a few top prospects entering this summer's draft.

BOSTON - It has been ten years since a defenseman was taken as the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft. The Ottawa Senators drafted Chris Phillips in 1996 and since then, seven forwards and two goaltenders have been the first pick overall.

Ten years later, a defenseman by the name of Erik Johnson ranks at the top of the Central Scouting Service report. Johnson will find out his fate on June 24 in Vancouver’s G.M. Place – the site of this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

Johnson will be challenged by the likes of dynamic forwards Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel, but is excited to have the opportunity to be picked first this summer.

“It would be really cool to be picked first,” Johnson told the Hockey News. “Just because it has been such a rare thing.”

Johnson, a native of Bloomington, MN, grew up 15 minutes away from the University of Minnesota. Johnson has been a die-hard fan since before he even began to skate and is expected to play for the Golden Gophers at the start of the 2006-07 season, fulfilling his boyhood dream.

The 6’4”, 222 pound 18-year old recently finished his second season with the U.S. National Team Development Program. Johnson led all defenseman in scoring with 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points in 38 games. He also had the opportunity to play with Team USA at the World Junior Championships in Vancouver. There, he recorded 1-3=4 totals in seven games.

“Character and mobility are a great 1-2 punch for this kid,” commented Scott Bradley, Bruins Director of Amateur Scouting. “Slowly, all year (Johnson) has crept up to be many teams No. 1 choice.”

Central Scouting Report:

A powerful skater with a long, smooth stride who has tremendous acceleration in open ice … is very strong on his feet and is an outstanding backward skater who has excellent agility for his size … an offensive minded defenseman who has very good peripheral vision – makes the transition from defense to offense quickly and likes to rush with the puck which results in scoring chances … makes a solid crisp pass accurately, is also very accurate when making the long pass and possesses a hard accurate shot from the point … is very dangerous on the power play with the one-timer … pinches well and is seldom caught out of position … a solid positional player in the defensive zone – is difficult to beat one-on-one … reads the play well … has a very quick stick with a long reach that he uses effectively … an excellent shot blocker whose timing is outstanding … exhibits very good hockey sense and understanding of the game … has great size, strength, physical presence and is a very competitive player who works hard every shift … uses his size and strength to his advantage in the corners and in front of the net … delivers solid body checks and finishes his checks with authority … opponents are aware of his presence on the ice and he adapts well to game conditions, playing with an edge when necessary … a disciplined player who leads by example – he is respected by teammates and opponents … is very focused and coachable … member of the US Under-17 Team in 2004-05 … member of the US Under-18 team for the 2005 World Championships … member of US World Junior team for 2005-06 and will attend the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2006.

Personal Profile:

Nicknames are EJ and E … favorite team is the Minnesota Wild … favorite players are Colorado’s Rob Blake and Edmonton’s Chris Pronger … wears jersey No. 6, but says that he changes numbers every year … says his parents are the most influential on his career because “they are always encouraging me and supporting me no matter what” … patterns his style of play after Rob Blake because “he is two-way and smart” … outside of sports, Johnson most admires his parents for how hard they work in their lives … most memorable hockey game played was USA vs. Canada at the 2006 World Junior Championships because of the “amazing atmosphere” … most memorable hockey game watched was Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals between the Canucks and the Rangers because “I knew then that hockey was what I wanted to do” … favorites include: Seinfeld (TV show), Gladiator (movie), Vince Vaughn (actor), Jennifer Aniston (actress), Rob Thomas and Rascal Flatts (musicians) … if he could have dinner with any three people, he would invite Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jennifer Aniston and Russell Crowe, because “it would be interesting and an experience that I would remember forever.”

Click here to read Erik Johnson’s Draft Blog...
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