Left-winger Craig Johnson was a diligent worker and a solid playmaker in college who became an NHL regular in the 1990s. He began his career with the St. Louis Blues but joined the L.A. Kings late in his second season.
The native of St. Paul, Minnesota starred at Hill-Murray High School in 1989-90 and was drafted 33rd overall that year by St. Louis. Johnson next played three seasons with the University of Minnesota. During his third year in 1992-93 he scored 22 goals and played with Team USA at the World Championships.
Johnson spent the entire 1993-94 season with the U.S. national team and scored 51 points in 54 games then played all eight games at the Lillehammer Olympics. He played 15 games for the Blues in 1994-95 while also toiling for the Peoria Rivermen in the IHL. He began the 1995-96 season in St. Louis but was traded to the Kings where he scored nine points in 11 games before playing for the US at the World Championships.
Injuries limited Johnson to 31 games in 1996-97 but he was given more responsibility the next year and responded with 38 points in 74 games. He continued to be an efficient worker for L.A., going up and down his wing and playing centre where his face-off winning skills and playmaking ability were useful. In 1997-98 he broke through with 38 points and solid two-way play and was an effective checker the following season.
Following a strong 1999-00 season, Johnson was plagued with injuries which limited him to 26 games in 2000-01 before a resurgence in 2001-02. Happy to be able to rebound from his disappointing 2000-01 season, Johnson's offensive numbers summed up the Kings season in 2002-03. With only three goals and six assists for nine points, Johnson was one of the more durable Kings in 2002-03, after the team lost the services of Jason Allison, Adam Deadmarsh and Brian Smolinski for a good portion of the seaon.
After another appearance at the World Championships, Johnson signed as a free-agent with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the summer of 2003 and went on to play 39 games with the club before moving on to the Toronto Maple Leafs in January, 2004. Upon his arrival with the Leafs, Johnson went on to play a mere ten games with the club before he was put on Waivers and claimed by the Washington Capitals.