Dec 23, 2013, 1:29 PM EDT
Now you can add another name to that list: Ryan Johansen.
Taken fourth overall by Columbus, Johansen is in the midst of a breakout season. He’s already racked up 14 goals — more than John Tavares and Jonathan Toews — and leads all Blue Jackets skaters with 29 points.
“He’s starting to come into every game and believes he can dominate those games,” Columbus teammate Brandon Dubinsky told NHL.com. “He’s a big-bodied player who has the skill level of a little guy.
“He’s definitely starting to take over games more and more.”
Johansen, who goes 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, proved that takeover ability on a couple of occasions within the last week. He tore the Jets apart in the faceoff circle on Dec. 16, going 13-for-19 while finishing with an assist in a 3-2 loss, then popped a pair of goals and was named first star in Saturday’s 6-3 win over the Flyers.
Things didn’t always look so rosy for the 21-year-old, though.
The lockout-shortened ’13 campaign was a struggle — he was demoted to AHL Springfield mid-season — and the low point came when the Falcons made him a healthy scratch in the Calder Cup playoffs, a move approved by Jackets GM Jarmo Kekelainen.
“I think this is probably going to be a disappointment [to him], to say the least, maybe even a bit embarrassing,” the Jackets GM told the Columbus Dispatch. “Hopefully, he takes it the right way, gets to work this summer and shows us in the fall that he has taken it to heart and he’s ready to earn a spot on the [Blue Jackets].
“I don’t have any indication that he’d be unhappy. I really don’t care if he was unhappy.”
But with Johansen now starring for the Jackets, Kekalainen’s changed his tune.
“He’s just starting to realize the potential he has,” Kekalainen said. “The sky is the limit for [Johansen] with the size and skill he has, but there is so much more room for improvement even with the season he’s having.”
I think everyone needs to be talking about Ryan Johansen. (Pssst…he plays for Columbus. And doesn’t look 14 anymore.)
— Jason Brough (@JasonPHT) December 22, 2013
- Video: Raanta shuts out flat Flyers in emergency start 0
- Video: Flyers’ Jones lays out Smith, called for charging 4
- Video: Islanders’ Hickey cut after taking a skate to the face 1
- (Video) McKenzie: NHLPA ‘entirely on board’ with Voynov suspension 8
- If allegations are true, will Kings welcome Voynov back into their ‘special’ group? 33
- Rutherford on Fleury: ‘As long as I’m the GM, he’ll be our goalie’ 15
- Datsyuk will play tonight in Montreal 4
- NHL on NBCSN: Flyers take on ‘Hawks in Chicago 9
- Jets’ Maurice apologizes for using the F-bomb at a reporter 30
- Video: Oilers win…? Oilers win! 3
- Source: Lucic fined $5k for gesture vs. Habs (Confirmed) (121)
- Updated: Kings’ Voynov arrested for domestic assault, suspended indefinitely (78)
- Video: Bruins’ Lucic gestures to Habs fans after late penalty (59)
- ‘It’s stupid': Tempers flare after Kesler’s late charge on Granlund (54)
- Lucic apologizes for obscene gesture: ‘I’m obviously not proud of what I did there’ (45)