Former Trail Smoke Eaters assistant captain Kent Johnson was selected fifth overall in the NHL Draft on Friday. Photo: Jim Bailey

Former Trail Smoke Eaters assistant captain Kent Johnson was selected fifth overall in the NHL Draft on Friday. Photo: Jim Bailey

Blue Jackets pick Trail Smoke Eater alum fifth overall in NHL Draft

Former Trail Smoke Eater and BCHL MVP, Kent Johnson, goes top five overall in 2021 NHL Draft

As anticipated, Trail Smoke Eaters alum Kent Johnson didn’t have to wait long for his name to be called at the 2021 NHL Draft.

Johnson made history on Friday when he was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets as the fifth pick overall.

It was the highest pick of any Smoke Eater in the team’s 26 year history in the BCHL, and joins a select few drafted into the NHL.

“It’s just a huge honour to be drafted, a dream come true,” Johnson said in a release. “I’m so thankful to everyone who has helped me get to this point today.”

The 18-year-old left-handed shot played two seasons in orange and black and was named 2020 BCHL MVP, Top Scorer, and Most Sportsmanlike, and CJHL Top Forward in his final year in Trail when he tallied 41 goals and 108 points in 56 games.

“The Smoke Eaters are so proud to see Kent drafted in the first round,” said Smoke Eaters director of hockey operations, Craig Clair. “Kent brought so much excitement to our fans and gave us so many memorable nights inside Cominco Arena. We are all excited to cheer and follow Kent on his path to the NHL.”

Johnson committed to the University of Michigan Wolverines of the NCAA, and led all Freshmen with 27 points in 26 games, and received a Hobey Award nomination.

His Michigan teammates Owen Power and Mathew Beniers went one and two respectively in the NHL Draft.

Last week, Hockey Canada announced that the six-foot-one, 172 pound Johnson was one of 51 players invited to Team Canada’s summer development camp for the 2022 World Junior Championship.

If Johnson cracks the roster, he will join Alex Newhook as the only other BCHL graduate to play in the tournament.

Trail goalie Logan Terness was ranked in the top 25 among North American netminders but was not selected.

Trail native Steve McCarthy was selected 23rd overall by the Chicago Black Hawks in the 1999 NHL Draft, Trail’s Travis Gawryletz in the eighth round by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2004, Grant Rollheiser in the sixth round by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008, Kale Howarth was the 2017 fifth round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and in 2018 Seth Barton went 81st overall as a third round pick of the Detroit Red Wings.

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