With the 2020-21, OHL season cancelled the current season would be a tough one to navigate. Players returning back to a competitive landscape and have to look good in front of scouts for NHL teams. Some players have struggled a bit coming back like predicted first-overall Shane Wright. Some, like Wyatt Johnston, have shown why they were the right choice for their draft.
Johnston is having a huge year with the Windsor Spitfire. Being on one of the most competitive teams in the Western Conference, Johnston would have to compete with other first-round picks to cement himself for his team. While he was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the first round of 2021, it only meant that his journey was just starting.
In his rookie season in the OHL, Johnston only managed to gather 30 points. Although the number itself is impressive for a rookie in a fast-paced like like the OHL, and the season-ending early because of Covid-19, it would fail in comparison with the numbers he is putting out now. Johnston currently leads the league in points at 104. He currently has 36 goals and 68 assists in the 57 games he has played so far this season.
A player who has stiff competition who has to shine in a conference with Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Rory Kerins, Flint Firebirds Brennan Othmann, and London Knights Luke Evangelista. In January of this year, he reviewed the OHL player of the month award. The month earlier in December he also won the OHL Player of the Month Award. He is also dominant in the face-off circle where he is winning 80 percent of the faceoffs a night can become regular. In January 46 of his 104 points came in that month alone.
Johnston still doesn’t have any playoff experience in the OHL. Because it’s his second season and his first season was cancelled and he was unable to have that experience. Although he has surpassed every expectation so far in the OHL, one of the final tests he will have will be how he does in the playoffs.
With a great team come great players and Johnston is surrounded by great players. He usually shares a line with New York Rangers draft-pick Will Cuylle and undrafted powerhouse Matt Maggio. They all take the top three spots and showcase the power of the Spitfire’s first line. Cuylle played fewer games this season at 49, but he has 33 goals and 34 assists.
Johnston would be going into a Stars team going for a Stanley Cup. After their miracle run in 2020 and getting into the finals against the Tamp Bay Lightning, the team has added a lot of young talent to their core. Their most notable pickup is Jason Robertson, someone born close to Los Angeles. The Central Division has become a hot spot for competitive teams such as the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild.
If Johnston was to make the jump directly to the NHL next year, he would have a lot of competition for his growth as a player. If not the AHL affiliate, Texas Stars in Austin has also developed some of the great players as well.
Where ever Johnston plays next season could affect the Stars organization and the Spitfire as well. But as of now, he is riding on his current season. He is currently in the lead of the points race and with only a few more games left in the season, his next challenge will be the playoffs. What happens then will be a sight for the Stars.
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