Islanders: Ross Johnston Expectations For 2021 Season
By Matt O'Leary
Ross Johnston is one of the NHL’s last remaining fighters. Heading into 2021, what can we expect from Johnston with the Islanders?
For the last three seasons, Ross Johnston has played a limited role for the Islanders. Over those three years, he has appeared in just 73 games with only 14 points to his name but he is still a fan favorite despite his offensive production.
The reason? Well, he’s one of the few remaining fighters in the game. Last year, Ross played in 32 games but fought six times. That’s an average of a fight once every five games.
He’s not someone who gets a ton of ice time, he averaged just 7:59 last season and his average for his career is 8:31. But you put him in the lineup when you need the players to police the ice.
Can we expect him to get into the lineup much in 2021?
Honestly, I’d say no. Operating under the assumption that Matt Martin is coming back, there isn’t a regular role to be had for Johnston (which makes his long-term contract signed in 2018 seem that much weirder).
With Ross, he’ll either be a taxi squad or scratchpad player in 2021 and I anticipate we will only see him on occasion. With that being said, I’ll pencil him in for 12 games this year with three fights, two goals, and one assist.
Nobody really cares about what Johnston is going to do production-wise. His job is to skate around and throw the body for six minutes or seven minutes a night and maybe drop the gloves. He had an impressive 78 penalty minutes in just 32 games last year.
If for some reason Martin doesn’t return, or there’s an injury, then we can see his playing time go up. But with everything we know about the 2021 roster, he’ll likely have some bodies to climb before getting playing time.
For now, I’ll leave you with Ross Johnston punching the hell out of Michael Haley. Enjoy: