Outside of the Tampa Bay Lightning, there is a lot of regret around the NHL on not uncovering Tyler Johnson as an undrafted free agent. But it must especially burn the Minnesota Wild.
On Friday, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune recalled how close the Wild came to signing the current leading scorer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
According to Russo, the Wild invited Johnson to their prospect tournament in Traverse City, Mich., before the club began training camp in 2009.
Johnson reportedly impressed the Wild’s brass, but he returned to the Spokane Chiefs for the 2009 season.
Following that campaign, the Wild again invited him to the club’s development camp and prospect tournament where the front office was showing interest in signing him. However, Johnson sustained a shoulder injury, which forced him to miss the rest of the 2010 tournament.
Due to that, the Wild decided to let Johnson return to junior for his overage year in 2010-11, which turned out to be a regrettable decision. Johnson posted a 53-goal season with 115 points, which led to offers from several NHL clubs including Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and the reportedly the Chicago Blackhawks.
Russo said that Johnson determined, after studying the depth charts of the interested clubs with his father, that Tampa Bay presented the best opportunity and a clear path to the NHL so he signed with the club in March of 2011.
Hindsight is 20/20 but it must be tough for the Wild to see how impactful of a player Johnson has become at the NHL level.
The Lightning forward registered a career-high 29 goals and 43 assists in 77 regular season games before adding 12 goals in 16 playoff games entering play Friday.