Ah, the power of SB Nation and the Internet. T.C. Engel, a mod at SB Nation's MMA blog Bloody Elbow, has seen new Flyers prospect Andrew Johnston play hockey quite a bit. He works at the arena that hosts the Humboldt Broncos, Johnston's former Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team, and he provided this lengthy scouting report for us.
Granted, Engel claims he's not a professional scout, but who cares? He's seen the guy play a lot of hockey and he understands the game, so that's enough for me. See Engel's full report after the jump. - Travis
Hey Flyers fans. I'd be shocked if any of you recognized my name at all, but a quick intro: I'm a long time SBN user, and even longer time hockey fan (GO BLACKHAWKS! Sorry). I'm a mod at Bloody Elbow (MMA Blog) right now, and am a huge fan of that sport. But that doesn't really matter right now. What does is this: For the last year, I've worked at the arena where Andrew Johnston played his Jr. A hockey for the Humboldt Broncos, so I saw him play ~30 times this year. I just thought this would be a cool thing for you guys to read.What follows is a scouting report of the major areas of his game. Keep in mind that while he did play Junior A hockey, he had a roster spot on the table from the Red Deer Rebels that he turned down to keep his NCAA eligibility.
Disclaimer: I am, by no means, a professional, just someone who has seen a Flyers prospect play a lot, and just wanted to help out a fellow SBN blog's readers understand why they would take a shot in the dark on an unknown player.
Born July 6, 1991
6'1", ~185 lbs.
Left shooting LW
Obviously, Johnston was signed for his ability to make offense, this is no surprise. He is an absolutely deadly shooter, which his playoff stats this year may indicate: 10 G in 14 games. However, sometimes Andrew is reluctant to shoot, in favor of trying to set up a teammate, which he did regularly in the playoffs when his line was changed from Ryan Marshall and Josh Roach, a natural defenseman, to Marshall and Emrick Guillemette, a QMJHL veteran power forward. Johnston likes to hold the puck on the power play, looking to either find a cross ice pass or a shot on goal. He seems hesitant to pass to defensemen at times, though that may have been due to a deficiency in offensive defensemen on the team. Additionally, Johnston is a very good puckhandler. He is great one-on-one; I am hard pressed to remember an instance where he lost to the defenseman in a one-on-one. Above average speed, acceleration, and agility. He is pretty good in these areas, but definitely is not a Gaborik-esque skater.
For a player whose offense is very touted, Johnston's defensive game is severely underrated. He played on the Broncos' first penalty kill unit throughout the season, and regularly battled, and won, in corners to get the puck out. He is great shorthanded, he and Marshall got quite a few shorthanded goals this year. Sticks well to his man during 5-on-5, but knows when he is needed down low and battles well along the wall.
A true student of the game. He sees the ice better than I have ever seen anyone at this level. He is always passing to empty, open lanes, and the pass receiver would arrive just as the puck got there. He always appears to be a step ahead of the defence. I remember a particular incident in the Anavet Cup Final (SJHL champs vs. MJHL champs for the rights to go to the RBC Cup) when Marshall was just getting off the bench, and Johnston received the puck on the defensive left blue line. As Marshall started moving forward, Johnston passed a three foot high saucer pass from the defensive left blue line to the offensive right blue line, on Marshall's tape, in stride. He saw the Junior A game tremendously, I can only hope for your sake that he continues to process at such a tremendous pace in the AHL, and eventually, the NHL.
He really is a great kid. Works very hard, [cliche warning] he's the first guy to practice and the last guy out. As you all saw from his SAT score, he's a smart kid. He is a big game player; was the leading scorer in the RBC Cup tournament and was named top forward. Tough as nails. In a tied round robin RBC Cup game, he was hit after the whistle to end the 3rd period from behind; the hitter skated from the blue line to hit him. It was an incredibly powerful, dirty hit. Johnston laid on the ice for about two minutes before getting up and making his way to the dressing room. He came out and scored with seconds left in the ensuing power play to win the game for his team. This is about the best example of his character as it relates to hockey I can think of.
Really guys, overall, you're getting a good player. You can definitely take it with a grain of salt because he was not playing the highest competition, but the numbers really don't do Johnston justice; he downright dominated the SJHL this year.
If you have any questions for me, go for it.
I understand your concerns with Andrew, but I don't think you should worry: You have a hell of a hockey player on your hands. Treat him good down there.