The New Jersey Devils are taking an early look at forward Tyler Johnson.
And with the Boston Bruins expected to make another trade this week, it’s easy to see why.
The 21-year-old Johnson has the speed, strength and offensive upside of a star, but he’s still very raw.
And the Devils have the ability to get some value for the young man.
In a perfect world, Johnson would be a No. 1 center.
He could potentially be a top-six center if he develops and plays as a top player.
But as the Devils’ top prospect, it makes sense to wait on that.
Johnson will likely be on the trading block when the season starts, and his chances of staying there seem remote.
Still, Johnson’s stock is rising rapidly.
And it’s not just because he’s a rising star.
He has a strong family background, a good work ethic and an ability to make plays.
He’s already showing promise on the power play, and he’s the only forward on the team that plays the way he does, with a strong first step and a quick release.
In his last three games, Johnson has five goals and eight points in 13 games.
He also scored his first goal since Jan. 11 against the Arizona Coyotes, a game in which he had eight points (two goals, seven assists).
In the past three games against Philadelphia, St. Louis and Buffalo, Johnson is six points (three goals, three assists) in five games.
His best goal came against the Flyers on Feb. 13, when he scored his sixth point of the season.
In the first two games against St. Louis, Johnson scored twice, including a power-play goal that sent the game into overtime.
In Buffalo, he scored in the third period, a goal that made it 4-3.
He had another goal and two assists in those games, including the game-winner against the Blues.
Johnson has some good attributes.
He plays with a high-end of hockey sense, and has a good shot and shot-blocking ability.
He can also make plays with the puck, especially when he is in a pinch.
In this video, you can see Johnson make a smart, tough pass in front of the net.
But he also makes a good play with his stick, and is able to finish with the net to give the Islanders a 4-1 lead at the beginning of the second period.
Johnson is a big body, but it’s a physical game and he has to make good decisions to make his linemates work hard.
He needs to learn how to read a play and react to situations better, but his offensive instincts will be a plus in this league.
If the Devils are interested in a player like Johnson, there’s no reason to assume they won’t have interest in other forwards.
The Sabres have a slew of players who could fill their gaping holes, and it’s clear that they would love to have the talent.
In fact, Johnson could be the first forward that the Sabres would take if they wanted to add another forward.
The Isles have some young talent at forward, including top-nine forward Taylor Hall, second-round pick Nick Spaling, third-round selection Andrew MacDonald and first-round picks Nick Leddy and Ryan Pulock.
The Devils also have some quality young players on defense, including fourth-round draft pick Ryan Johansen and fourth-rounder Zach Redmond.
If you want to be one of the top-10 teams in the NHL this year, you need to be able to score goals.
Johnson has all the tools to do that, and that makes him a natural fit for the Islanders.