Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson scored in the second period on Wednesday as the Lightning defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 to register the first-ever regulation win in Vancouver for the franchise. For Johnson, it was his 11th goal of the season and extended his current point streak to four.
Johnson is in his first full season with the Lightning, having spent the last season with the team’s AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch. He scored a total of 47 goals and registered 86 points between the regular season and playoffs, which earned him the 2013 AHL Most Valuable Player award. Johnson made his NHL debut in March of 2013 and recorded his first goal just one game later.
He earned a spot on the roster this season being used as a third-line center behind Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula while also playing on both sets of special teams. Johnson had been earning 16:38 of ice time in the first portion of the season, chipping in four goals and three assists when Stamkos broke his leg on Veterans Day against the Boston Bruins.
Since then, Johnson has been centering the second line, having seen a boost in his ice time to an average of 19:11. His production has also increased with seven goals and eight assists in the 23 games since the Stamkos injury.
This is all coming from a kid who was not drafted by any club when he played in the juniors because he was too small. Johnson, 23, stands just 5-foot-9 and he uses his stature to his advantage by getting to pucks quicker than the taller defenders that he plays against.
His skill is finally being shown at the highest level, which is wonderful to see for those who have watched him play since he was a kid. Johnson was born in Spokane, Washington and fulfilled a dream when he was drafted by the hometown Spokane Chiefs in the 11th round of the 2005 WHL Bantam Draft.
Johnson joined the team as a 17-year old and had a very productive season for the Chiefs, registering 35 points in 69 games. The Chiefs would go on to win the Memorial Cup that season with Johnson earning the WHL Playoff MVP award.
Over the last three years in his Chiefs career, he put up 247 points in 197 regular season games, including leading the league with 115 points in his overage season — a mark that ranks him seventh in Spokane Chiefs history. He was the heart and soul of the Chiefs squad and was named team captain during his 20-year old season.
Johnson has the leadership qualities and knack for scoring that will make him a very good player in the NHL for years to come.