Jr. Ducks’ Johnson makes history as USHL’s highest drafted Californian ever
Anaheim Jr. Ducks 16U AAA defenseman Ryan Johnson found himself in uncharted territory during the first week of May.
The 2001 birth year was selected third overall in Phase I of the United States Hockey League (USHL) Draft, by the Sioux Falls Stampede, making him the highest drafted Californian in Phase I of the junior league’s draft.
“It’s really exciting,” said Johnson, who will attempt to make the Stampede this summer. “It was a surprise they picked me. Some other teams farther down in the draft had contacted me. It’s a great franchise and I’m looking forward to going there.”
Johnson had 28 points in 36 games in the Tier I Elite Hockey League and added seven points in 11 CAHA games. He helped his Jr. Ducks team and Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s varsity team reach the USA Hockey Youth Nationals this past season. He was one of four players with ties to the Jr. Ducks picked by USHL teams
Fellow 16U defenseman Drake Usher was selected in the Phase II portion of the draft (players born in 2000 or earlier) by the Youngstown Phantoms in the 18th round (284th overall). Two former Jr. Ducks also were picked. Nick Kent went in the second round in Phase I to Green Bay (24th), while Brett Roloson (2000) was taken by Dubuque in the 20th round (320th) in Phase II.
“It’s huge for the program,” said Jr. Ducks director of player personnel Alex Kim, who along with Craig Johnson, Ryan’s dad, coached the 16U AAA team. “Ryan’s a really good hockey player who has put in a lot of hard work, as have Drake Usher and Brett Roloson.”
The club also had a player selected in the Western Hockey League’s Bantam Draft, forward Tristan Rand, a 2002 birth year who was taken in the eighth round (166th overall) by the Tri-City Americans.
In 2011, Trevor Moore was selected No. 8 overall – the previous highest a Californian had been drafted. Former Jr. Duck Max Becker went five spots later and Andrew Oglevie was 14th.
Photo/Total Sports Imaging
— Chris Bayee