1st Ohio Battery Awards: Columbus Blue Jackets Unsung Hero

By Jeff Svoboda on May 26, 2017 at 8:39 am
David Savard paired with Jack Johnson this year
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

If the 1st Ohio Battery Awards were a real awards show (wait, we're not?), we'd be in the middle, the meat of the show. The awkward pleasantries are over. No one got too offended by the monologue. A few awards, like Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player, have been given. I think we took a selfie that went viral.

So where do we go from here? The Columbus Blue Jackets unsung hero honor seems fitting. It's not the most glamorous honor, but the middle of the show isn't the most glamorous. But the winners are remembered by history just the same.

Forward Sam Gagner

If there were expectations for Gagner coming into the season, it was merely for him to last the whole season, probably. A tough end to his Philadelphia career and a solid yet disappointing Edmonton career left many wondering just what he had to give, and the answer was plenty. Gagner was a key part of the team's power play and its hot start, delivering an early scoring punch on a clicking man-advantage that allowed Columbus to get off to the best start in franchise history. By the time it was the best season in franchise history, Gagner had resurrected his career and showed he's the kind of guy who can be counted on for close to 20 goals and 50 points per season at the NHL level.

Defenseman David Savard

One could argue that Savard is one of the more underrated defensemen in the NHL over the past few seasons. He's big, he's physical, he can get the puck up the ice, he can kill penalties, and he has a blistering and accurate shot. How's this for a stat? Savard was one of the heaviest defensive zone draw players on the Jackets, showing John Tortorella and staff trusted him and Jack Johnson in their own end more than many. Yet Savard finished with a CF% of above 50 percent, showing that not only did Savard and Johnson get the puck out of their zone, it often ended in offense going the other way. 

Center Lukas Sedlak

I really don't think people realize just how good a year Sedlak had. So much of what Columbus has done over the past few years when the Jackets have been at their best is based on balance. Having four lines that could make the opponent take notice of their presence has been a key component of the successful Blue Jackets teams, and that was the case this season. Sedlak was a big part of that, using a successful Calder Cup playoff run last year into a consistent season this year at the NHL level. Sedlak became more and more dangerous with the Jackets the more he played, finishing the season  with seven goals, six assists, a plus-10 rating. He also boasted positive puck possession numbers despite being on a checking line, signs that his prowess as a defensive stalwart can turn getting the puck up the ice into offense.

The Winner Is: David Savard

It has to be Savard. His underlying numbers show a defenseman who excels in just about every area, and he did enough both offensively and defensively to contribute key minutes to this squad. With Columbus remaking its defense, Savard paired with Johnson to give the Jackets a key pairing, one that could still play the get-the-puck-up-the-ice game favored at the moment by Tortorella yet still play strong and smart in the defensive zone. Savard came into his own this year and looks to be a key part of the blue line going forward.