Despite a 3-2 loss in Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Detroit Red Wings, Tyler Johnson has helped spark the Tampa Bay Lighting’s playoff run.
While Steven Stamkos had always been one of the best players in hockey. This year was no exception, as he amassed 72 points for the Tampa Bay Lighting. However, this season was a little different for him, because Johnson, has given Stamkos a run for his money as the Lightning’s most dynamic playmaker.
Johnson has played an integral role in getting the Lightning into the playoffs. He finished the season tied with Stamkos for overall team points. It has given the Lightning a solid second option to pair with Stamkos, something that the team was hoping to find when they dealt Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers.
St. Louis and Johnson are actually very similar, as both have succeeded in the league despite their small stature. Tyler Johnson stands at a measly 5’9, so gaining the respect of coaches and players hasn’t been an easy task.
The height factor was the main reason Johnson went undrafted out of the WHL. It was only after a breakout 115-point season in 2010-11 that Tampa Bay signed him to an entry-level contract.
Johnson’s professional career started in 2011-12 with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL. He went on a tear in March of 2012 scoring a point in 13 straight games. This feat earned him the Reebok/AHL player of the month award.
His rookie season with Tampa Bay in 2013-14 proved that the gaudy AHL totals weren’t a fluke. Johnson scored 50 points for the Lightning that season, and was named to the All-Rookie Team.
However, it has been the 2014-15 season which has seen Johnson go from young rookie to potential NHL cornerstone. His 72 points were good enough for 15th overall in the NHL, and he was named to his first All-Star game.
In addition, Johnson became the fastest undrafted player to record 50 goals, doing so in only 156 games.
“He makes it look so easy at times,” Lightning winger Nikita Kuchoerov stated, “I love playing with him. He always seems to make the right pass or be in the right place.”
“He is such a dynamic young player,” Los Angeles Kings coach, Daryl Sutter, stated to media.
While Johnson might not be the sole reason in the Lightning’s success, he is undoubtedly one of the team’s, and the NHL’s most reliable and exciting stars.