Sean Kuraly has deep Ohio roots.
The lefthanded centerman is one of four current Blue Jackets born in the Columbus Area. Like two of the other three, he was also raised here, growing up in the suburb of Dublin Ohio. He was a member of the AAA Blue Jackets youth hockey program and attended Dublin Scioto High School, spending the first sixteen years of his life in Central Ohio, until he went to play for the Indiana Ice of the USHL.
Kuraly was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 5th round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft but wouldn't break into the league for five more years. In the meantime, he returned to Ohio to play for Miami University. He played all four years there, earning the role of captain in his senior year.
Then, in the 2016-17 season, while playing most of the games for its AHL affiliate in Providence, Kuraly was able to get on the ice for the Boston Bruins. He played only eight games for the Bruins that season, but nonetheless, he had finally made it to the NHL. He spent the next four years in Boston, cementing himself as a bottom-six forward for their club.
This past offseason, the Dublin native finally got to come home, signing a four-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets in order to give his hometown team another steady veteran presence on such a young roster. Kuraly also brought with him some much-needed size and toughness, coming in at 6' 2", 213 lbs. and recording no less than 129 hits in each of the three full seasons he spent in Boston as well as the 99 hits he posted in the Covid-shortened 2020-21 season.
When asked what it has been like, not only getting to be back in Columbus but getting to now play for the Blue Jackets, this was Kuraly's response.
"I've grown up here; I've lived here; this is my hometown, but you don't know what goes on inside these walls until you get in. I came in as a fan for many years, obviously, and it felt like this was my team. But as someone who is from here, it made me even more proud to be a part of this now that I know what's going on inside of these walls." He went on, " It's exceeded my expectations. I love this city; I love this team, and our fans were there till the last game, which is just, just awesome."
Kuraly has also enjoyed the best statistical season of his career. While playing for the Blue Jackets, he posted career bests in goals and points with a line of 14-16-30 while leading the bottom-six unit as well as stepping up and filling in on the top two lines for injuries.
With an increased leadership role as well as ice time, this year, one area that Kuraly may have stepped up the most is showing his toughness and physicality. On a team that desperately needed it, he shattered his previous career-high with 240 hits, good enough for 11th in the NHL this season. He also set personal records in takeaways and blocks with 35 and 51 respectively.
Kuraly is signed through the 2024-25 season at a modest 2.5 million AAV, so the Blue Jackets should have a solid veteran presence to anchor their third line for a few more years to come.