Battalion Breakdown is a closer look at the Blue Jackets' past season on a player-by-player basis. Today, BlueJackets.com continues the series by looking at Markus Hannikainen's season and how it impacted Columbus in the 2018-19 campaign.
Birth date: March 26, 1993
Height/Weight: 6-1, 200
Stats (Games, G-A-P, point shares): 44 GP, 4-3-7, 0.2 PS
Contract: Restricted free agent (arbitration eligible)
If you're looking for a conversation in the locker room, Markus Hannikainen is your man.
And if you're looking for someone on the ice to play like his hair is on fire, that's Hannikainen too.
The energetic, always smiling winger from Finland has become a fourth-line presence for the Blue Jackets the past few seasons, seeing his games played number increase each year since he made his debut with four games during the 2015-16 season.
Hannikainen played under general manager Jarmo Kekalainen at Jokerit in their native country then came to the Jackets, playing a key role in the Lake Erie Monsters' Calder Cup-winning team three seasons ago with 20 regular-season points and 10 more in the postseason.
He hasn't proved to be a top scorer with just eight career goals, but Hannikainen has been a dependable energy guy when the team has needed one.
Entering the season: Hannikainen spent most of his first two seasons in North America in Cleveland, playing just 14 games over his first two campaigns in the Jackets organization, before more of a breakout year in 2017-18. The speedy winger played in 33 games last year and had a 3-3-6 line, and he was expected to fulfill a similar spot this year.
What happened: Hannikainen did exactly that and was buoyed by a bit of an offensive explosion at the start of the season.
As the Blue Jackets dealt with some injuries and consistency issues up front, Hannikainen got off to a hot start. He had two assists in his third game of the year vs. Detroit, then tallied Nov. 15 vs. Florida. Then he scored again three days later vs. Toronto, added an assist Nov. 26 at Detroit, then tallied goals in back-to-back games vs. Minnesota and the New York Islanders to give him four goals in eight games.
Unfortunately for Hannikainen, that was it on the scoring front for the year, as he did not have a goal or an assist in the final 26 games he played. He was minus-8 in that span and suited up in 9:27 per game.
He spent some time on injured reserve with an elbow injury suffered in January, then after the acquisitions of forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel, he had trouble finding playing time. Hannikainen suited up in just two games in March and none in April, though he did see the ice in one playoff game vs. Boston.
Hannikainen's lone game-winning goal came in a 7-3 victory against the Panthers on Nov. 15. While the final score makes it seem like a blowout, Hannikainen's goal came early in the third as the teams were tied at 3. Zac Dalpe entered the zone and had the puck poked off his stick, but he stayed with it and found Hannikainen back door, and the Finnish forward spun and drove the puck past Roberto Luongo to give the Jackets the 4-3 lead. Anthony Duclair, Josh Anderson and Boone Jenner later tallied to complete the four-goal third-period onslaught.
Video: FLA@CBJ: Hannikainen tucks puck past Luongo for lead
By the Numbers
62.9: Hannikainen was viewed as a defensive forward, with a defensive zone start percentage of 62.9 percent, an increase from his mark of 54.5 in 2017-18.
9:55: Hannikainen spent just 9:55 of his 417:02 of ice time this year on special teams. He played 7:11 of shorthanded time and just 2:44 on the power play.
15-1: The Finn had 15 takeaways this year and just one giveaway.