Undrafted and undersized is just a part of the hockey life that Tyler Johnson must play with on a nightly basis. Listed at 5’8” and 176 pounds, the Spokane Washington native signed a 3-year entry deal with Tampa Bay in March 2011.
Johnson played his junior hockey in his hometown for the Spokane Chiefs. Johnson said it was a dream of his growing up to play for the Chiefs. During Tyler’s 2007-2008 rookie season in the WHL, the right-handed center played along side current Tampa Bay goalie prospect Dustin Tokarski. Johnson would end his rookie year with 35 points in 69 games played. The Chiefs would win the Memorial Cup that season. Along with winning the Memorial Cup that year, Tyler would be named the play-off MVP. Tokarski and Johnson would go on to play another season in Spokane before Tokarski would make the transition to the pro game with the Tampa Bay organization.
Tyler’s game didn’t suffer the dreaded sophomore curse either during his second season with the Chiefs. The 5’8” center put up impressive numbers scoring 26 goals over the span of 62 games played finishing 3rd among Chiefs in scoring. Johnson played for Team USA as a 18 year old in the U-20 WJC tournament, playing in 6 games he would only put up 1 point in the tournament.
During the 2009-2010 season, Johnson competed in his second World Junior Tournament. Team USA won the Gold Medal in the 2010 WJC Tournament. During his time in Spokane, Tyler scored 36 goals and helped out on 35 goals for a total of 71 points.
Heading into the 2010-2011 season, Tyler was invited to the Traverse City Tournament by the Minnesota Wild. The tournament is put on by select NHL Teams for their prospects. Johnson was also invited to Minnesota to attend camp, but he did not receive an offer from the Wild. He was forced back to Spokane for an over-age season with the Chiefs, which proved to be his break-out year. Johnson put on an offensive clinic in the dub amassing 115 points in 71 games. Tyler won 4 awards in 2011 Most Sportsmen Like, Leading Goal Scorer, Western Conference All-Star and Western Conference Player of the Year.
Johnson would start his pro career with the Admirals, the former AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Johnson would silence all his critics who said he would not be able to play the pro game because of his size. During his rookie year, Johnson played in 75 regular season games putting up 68 points. During the Admirals Calder Cup run Johnson tallied 14 points in 14 games played.
Johnson has the making to be an offensive juggernaut in the future. Johnson posses lightning fast foot speed and can make the most out of the openings on the ice. The only downside to Tyler is his size, which can also be used as an asset.
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