Drafted late. Undersized. Average first few NHL seasons.
But now, that's none of his business.
Cam Atkinson is scalding hot to start his now eighth-season in a Columbus Blue Jacket uniform. His 19 goals are tied for sixth in the NHL and his 31 points are tied for first on his club.
But after being take in the sixth-round of the 2008 NHL draft, Atkinson didn't see the ice for the Jackets until the 2011-2012 season, and recorded 32 points in 62 games.
During the 2013-2014 season when the Blue Jackets captured their second playoff birth in franchise history, Atkinson began to make a true name for himself. He played in 79 games and matched up with one of the more fan-favorite offensive lines in Blue Jackets history, featuring Brandon Dubinsky and Matt Calvert.
This was the Blue Jackets' second line during that season, if it helps you see the growth in the past few years any better.
After a few more seasons of hovering in the 40-50 point range, Atkinson officially put his name into the ring for one of the better goal scorers in the game, hitting the 35-goal mark in the 2017-2017 season and becoming an all-star for the first time in his career.
Atkinson didn't play a full season last year due to a broken foot, but has been averaging .70 goals per game this year, the highest in team history for a single season.
In November of 2017, Atkinson inked his way to committing to Columbus for the long-haul, signing a 7-year, $41 million contract with the club.
Ahead of this season, Atkinson was named an alternate captain for the Blue Jackets, and his present season and career with the team has only validated that decision by management:
|Games Played||474 (6th)|
|Hat tricks||6 (1st)|
|SH Goals||10 (2nd)|
|PP Goals||35 (4th)|
|Game-Winning Goals||33 (2nd)|
This past offseason, Atkinson spoke to his commitment of wanting to be a part of the Blue Jackets franchise long-term.
“It’s great the fact that I’m here for hopefully seven years, that comfort level, it definitely gives you a little bit more motivation to work that much harder. It’s no secret I wanted to start my career here and finish it, so I hope that works out. We have something special here and I want to be a part of it.”
With young(er) talent like Zach Werenski and Seth Jones, it's more clear as of right now that one of those two defensemen will be likely be the face of the franchise as the team looks to chase a Stanley Cup.
But Atkinson's value as a leader and skilled player on the team is growing each and every day.
Coming from someone who took way too long to believe in Cam's influence on the team, it's time to buy the stock. Atkinson is here for the long-run, and is showing us why that's a great thing right now.
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