Capitals Brent Johnson Ready For New Start As A Buckeye In The Big 10

Until most recently the Washington Capitals didn’t typically draft college players. However, over the last three years there has been a discernable shift. In the 2022-23 NCAA season, the Capitals had six prospects playing collegiate hockey: Ryan Chesley (Minnesota), David Gucciardi (Michigan State), Chase Clark (Quinnipiac), Mitchell Gibson (Harvard), Joaquim Lemay (Nebraska-Omaha) and Brent Johnson (North Dakota). 

Johnson, Washington’s third round pick in 2021, decided to move on from the Fighting Hawks after playing in just 13 games and registering six points (one goal, five assists) last season. In his rookie year, he played in 23 games and had three points (two goals, one assist).

Knowing that he was likely going to have the same role as a depth blueliner at North Dakota, the Texas native saw an opportunity at Ohio State to take on a bigger role.

“They’ve been a great program for many years. And I think I just needed a new start somewhere and they had a lot of opportunities,” Johnson said. “The facilities are great, the coaching staff is great, and it was kind of hard to turn that down.”

The Buckeyes had tremendous turnover during the offseason, losing their top two rear guards in Mason Lohrei and Cole McWard to pro deals, and losing three additional defensemen to the transfer portal.

Furthermore, star goaltender Jakub Dobeš signed a pro deal with the Montreal Canadiens after guarding the Buckeye crease for the last two seasons.

Along with having numerous opportunities to have an increased role, another reason why Johnson chose to become a Buckeye was the familiarity between him and coach Steve Rholik.

“He’s seen me growing up ever since I was 16-years-old,” Johnson said. “He was familiar with my game, so he knew what I brought to the table and he knows what I can bring to their team.”

It was difficult for the 20-year-old to be the seventh defensemen for the Fighting Hawks last season after a respectable rookie campaign.

“We had a really good team last year, a lot of older defensemen. So, as a younger guy, it’s hard to crack the lineup and it was one of those things where I just had to go to work every day and keep focusing on getting better,” Johnson said.

Coming into the Capitals development camp, Johnson wants to become a more confident and more comfortable player. He describes himself as an offensive defenseman that is strong on the power play. 

If Johnson come out of camp as a more complete player, expect him to play big minutes for the Buckeyes this season.

By Jacob Cheris

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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