The year that was…
It started slowly, one might say, but once Boone Jenner found his footing in the NHL it was an entirely different story.
His first NHL goal in Montreal seems like ages ago (it was actually Oct. 17, 2013 which isn’t that long ago) and that’s mainly because of the strides Jenner made from his first game up through the Stanley Cup playoffs. Early in the season, Jenner scratched and clawed just to stay in the lineup.
By April, coach Todd Richards wished he could have cloned him.
Jenner progressively got better as his rookie season went on, and he was one of the Blue Jackets’ most effective players in their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His hard-forechecking, skating-downhill style of hockey suits the Blue Jackets’ identity perfectly and it’s no surprise that he’s already become a fan favorite in Columbus.
He finished the 2013-14 season with 16 regular season goals and scored three more in six playoff games. The line of Jenner-Johansen-Horton became the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 line midway through the season and Richards kept Johansen and Jenner together even when Horton was out of the lineup.
|Click the photo above for Boone Jenner's 2013-14 season in photos. |
And as exciting as it was to see Jenner crack the NHL roster out of camp and make an impact in his rookie season, both he and the Blue Jackets believe there’s more to give. The challenge now is to repeat and get even better this fall.
Where is he now?
Due to a contract stalemate with Johansen, the Blue Jackets are evaluation all options at center ice in the interim. Jenner, a natural center, seems like the most viable candidate to shift back to the middle until the Johansen situation is resolved, and it might provide Richards with the most seamless transition.
If Jenner can lock down the No. 3 center spot and give the Jackets a strong three-center model to open the season, they will be in a good position to get out to a quick start.
We’ll be watching Jenner’s possession-based analytics (Corsi, Fenwick) early in the season to see if a change in line mates has an effect on his driving play in the offensive zone. A year ago, Jenner was a decent but not great possession player (50.2 CF%, 50.1 FF%) but he did move around the lineup and skate with several different players in a variety of roles.
Though the numbers show that the Blue Jackets own most of the shot-attempt share when Jenner’s on the ice, those numbers could stand to get even better in 2014-15.