At the 2021 trade deadline, the Blue Jackets shipped out their long-time captain, Nick Foligno. The team was entering a rebuilding/retooling phase and wanted to gather assets as well as get younger. The club ended up finishing out the year with no captain, but in a move anticipated by many, elevated one of their alternates and longest-tenured player, Boone Jenner, to the role of captain for the 2021-22 season.
Jenner was selected by Columbus in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He would spend a couple more years in the OHL and AHL before making his debut for the Blue Jackets in the 2013-14 season in which he tallied 29 points in 72 games. Over his eight seasons with the team before being named captain, he garnered a reputation as a tough, team-first player with a great locker room presence.
Columbus had its ups and downs in Jenner's first year as captain, however, they had quite a few highlights, including scoring a single-season franchise-record 258 goals. The team also went from, what would have been 70 points (extrapolated to 82 games) in 2020-21 to 81 points this past season. They have work to do, but overall, they did well in building a solid foundation during the Ontario native's premiere season as a captain.
He spent most of the season as the first-line center, and the coaching staff relied on him heavily, making him the only forward on the team to average over 20 minutes of ice time per game. He definitely excelled in this role, putting up a career-high of .75 points per game, easily beating out his previous high of .60. The left-handed center was not only on track to set a career mark in total points but also in assists and goals as well. Part of this was due to the career-best 14.4% shooting percentage he posted this past season.
Unfortunately, he was unable to set a lot of the personal records he was on pace to set, due to his season getting cut short by a lower-back injury. He did miss 23 games due to the aforementioned injury, although, this is not likely to affect his outlook for next season as he played in 94% of all games in the six seasons prior to 2021-22. He has been very healthy for most of his career and there is no reason to believe that won't continue as he looks to lead the team for his second season with a C on his sweater.
As the Blue Jackets look to take a step forward in their development this fall, so too will their captain. He will need to continue his development as a leader, not only in the locker room but on the stat sheet as well. If Jenner can stay healthy and build on last season, he will have a good shot at setting the career marks he fell just short of in 2021-22.