Thursday, September 3, 2009

09/10 Men's Previews: #3 Craig Johnson


Vitals:

Position: Defenseman
Year in School: Junior
Shoots Left
Height: 5-10
Weight: 192
Hometown: Waupaca, WI
Major: Undeclared
Previous Team: Fairbanks (NAHL) in 06/07

NHL Considerations: He’s a Badger blue liner, never know what might happen after the 10/11 season.

08/09 Stats: 23 games, 0-2-2, +7, 10 PIM
07/08 Stats: 17 games, 1-0-1, -1, 2 PIM

09/10 Role: 3rd pairing, PK

08/09 Recap: Craig spent the first half of the season on the bench as Ryan Little and Eric Springer got a taste of the WCHA, but as the season went on and the Badgers chased the NCAA’s he was a regular on the 3rd pairing out on the blue line. At first, his role was limited and often would be short shifted in the 3rd period, but by the end of the season was getting full PT and seeing some PK time. He was often paired w/ Brendan Smith which complimented Smith’s still improving defensive play. He was named most consistent and most improved by his teammates.

Biggest Strength: Craig is a stay at home defensemen, plain and simple. Nothing flashy, but in his own end he’s strong and not a liability on offense since he doesn’t take any chances. On a team full of offensive dmen, I personally like having Craig on the ice.

Biggest Weakness: He doesn’t have much offensive upside, but he doesn’t need to, he would never see the PP anyway w/ the loaded depth chart.

09/10 Thoughts: One thing going against Craig (from a PT perspective) is the utter depth of talent on the blue line this season. He sits behind five NHL 1st or 2nd round picks (Schultz is going to play almost every night), and on most nights barring injuries will be fighting for the remaining 6th spot. Good news, he has the inside track after his play down the stretch last season and his stay at home skill set. If he comes out and establishes himself as a consistent defensive presence out of the gate Little, Springer and John Ramage are going to have to bust butt to take away his spot in the lineup. Craig Johnson is kinda like the new Josh Engel, not bad eh?

Prediction: 22 games, 0-2-2*
*All predictions for regular season only

Photo from uwbadgers.com