Ryan Johnston

Hometown:

Sudbury Ontario

Currently Playing In:

Pro

Birthday:

1992-02-14

Position:

D

Eligible for draft:

2010

Shoots:

Right

Drafted:

Height:

5-10

Acquired:

Signed as free agent, 2015.

Weight:

175 lbs.

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History

2007-08: Ryan Johnston played for the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves midget team that captured the 2008 TELUS Cup championship. He scored 4 goals with 26 assists and 12 penalty minutes in 32 regular season games. Johnston had 2 goals with 13 assists and 6 penalty minutes in 10 games in the Great North Midget League playoffs and had 3 assists with 10 penalty minutes in seven games at the TELUS Cup. The Wolves defeated the Winnipeg Thrashers, 6-4, in the championship game. Johnston was selected by Kitchener in the 10th round (200th overall) in the 2008 OHL Priority Draft.

2008-09: Johnston returned to the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves for his second midget season. In 33 regular season games he scored 10 goals with 18 assists and 22 penalty minutes. Johnston scored 2 goals with 13 assists and 6 penalty minutes in 11 playoff games. The Wolves fell to the Sault Ste. Marie Northstars in the GNML championship series, missing another shot at the TELUS Cup.

2009-10: Johnston played junior B hockey for the Elmira Sugar Kings in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. In 37 regular season games he scored 3 goals with 20 assists and 20 penalty minutes. Johnston had 3 assists and 4 penalty minutes in 12 playoff games. 

2010-11: Johnston attended training camp with Kitchener but did not secure a roster spot, subsequently skating for the Nepean Raiders in the Tier 1 Canada Hockey League. In 58 regular season games he scored 11 goals with 31 assists and 32 penalty minutes. The Raiders fell to the Brockville Braves in a seven-game playoff quarterfinal series. Johnston scored 1 goal with 3 assists and 6 penalty minutes in the series. In February he committed to playing college hockey at Colgate University in 2012-13.

2011-12: Johnston was an assistant captain for the Raiders in his second season and finished tied for fourth in the re-christened Central Canada Hockey League with 54 assists. In 58 regular season games he scored 17 goals with 54 assists and 32 penalty minutes. The Raiders won the CCHL regular season and playoff titles, missing out on a trip to the RBC Cup after falling to the Woodstock Slammers, 3-2, in the championship game of the Fred Page Cup. Johnston scored 9 goals with 9 assists and 8 penalty minutes in 18 CCHL playoff games and scored 1 goal with 1 assist and 4 penalty minutes in five games at the Fred Page Cup.

2012-13: Johnston skated in 35 of 36 games for Colgate University in his freshman season. He had 8 assists and was -4 with 30 penalty minutes. Colgate finished 11th in the 12-team ECAC Hockey League and lost to St. Lawrence in a first-round playoff series.

2013-14: Johnston was the second-leading scorer amongst Raiders defensemen in his sophomore season, one point behind junior Spiro Goulakos. He scored 4 goals with 15 assists and was -8 with 37 penalty minutes in 37 games. The Raiders finished second in ECAC Hockey and earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Midwest Regional after a 5-2 loss to Union in the conference championship game. Ferris State defeated Colgate, 1-0, in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

2014-15: Johnston skated in all 38 games for Colgate University as a junior in his final season of college hockey. He scored 1 goal with 14 assists and was +12 with 26 penalty minutes. The Raiders finished tied with Dartmouth for fourth in ECAC Hockey. Colgate swept Dartmouth in a conference quarterfinal series and defeated St. Lawrence, 4-3, in overtime to reach the ECAC Championship game but did not receive an NCAA tournament bid after a 4-2 loss to Harvard in the championship game. The Montreal Canadiens signed Johnston to a two-year entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent in July 2015. 

2015-16: Johnston made his NHL debut in three late season games with Montreal in April 2016 after skating for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps in his first pro season. He was +1 with no points nor penalties, averaging 16 minutes of ice time with the Canadiens. After missing the first half of the season while recovering from back surgery, Johnston joined the IceCaps in mid-January. In 37 AHL games he had 12 assists and was -14 with 14 penalty minutes. St. John’s missed the AHL playoffs, finishing fifth in the North Division.

Talent Analysis

Johnston is an offensively-inclined defensemen who is adept at moving the puck and is effective managing the attack from the point. While not a blazer in terms of straight line skating speed, he is an agile skater who changes direction quickly and can make split-second decisions. His defensive game is still developing in terms of consistency.

Future

Johnston saw his professional debut delayed until January 2016 after an early season back injury required surgery. Once healthy, he showed steady progress playing for the AHL's St. John's IceCaps and made his NHL debut with Montreal in April — becoming the team-record 15th defensemen to skate for the Canadiens in 2015-16. With several defensemen in the Montreal system expected to return next season, Johnston is likely to begin the 2016-17 season back in St. John's. His progress this year suggests potential as a lower pairing defenseman with some value on the power play.

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Photo: With 53 points, Charles Hudon finished second in St. John's IceCaps team scoring. (Courtesy of Graig Abel/Getty Images)

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