Playing Between All-Stars, Boone Jenner Is In Position For A Career Year

By Ed Francis on September 10, 2022 at 10:45 am
Centering Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine gives captain Boone Jenner a prime opportunity for a career season.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Boone Jenner has never had a 50-point season.

Conditions are prime for the 2022-23 season to change that.

The Blue Jackets captain scored 23 goals and added 21 assists for a 44-point season in 2021-22, his first wearing the "C". But that came in just 59 games before he was sidelined the last two months of the season with a back injury. At the time of the injury, Jenner was on pace to finish with 61 points. 

Even had he struggled the last quarter of the season, Jenner assuredly would have bested his career-high of 49 points in the 2015-16 season — one in which he played all 82 games. He was just six points shy of the 50-point mark when he skated his last game of the season on March 11th. 

Now healthy, the 29-year-old Jenner is a heavy favorite to center two of the more dynamic players in club history — winger Patrik Laine, who is set to enter his second full season with the club and is fresh off a contract extension that will keep him in Columbus for the next four season, and Johnny Gaudreau, the six-time All-Star and surprise free-agent signing who led the NHL in 5-on-5 points last season. 

If Jenner can stay healthy, something he historically has been able to do until this season's back injury, centering Laine and Gaudreau gives him the best opportunity of his career to pick up assists by the barrel. With due respect to previous linemates, Jenner (and any other Columbus center in the past) has never had the on-ice firepower these two provide. 

In Jenner's 49-point career-best season, he was a part of the Blue Jackets' most popular line by ice time, playing a total of 373 minutes alongside Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson. No other group was near that — the trio of Brandon Saad, Alex Wennberg, and Scott Hartnell were second, at 281 minutes. Coming in a distant third was Matt Calvert in place of Jenner on a Calvert-Dubinsky-Atkinson line. That group had only 154 minutes together, less than half of Jenner's common line of the 2015-16 season. 

For that season, Dubinsky and Atkinson combined for 44 goals, 57 assists, and 101 points in a total of 156 games. Gaudreau just went 40-75-115, by himself, in 82 games. Add in Laine's 56 points in 56 games from this season and you've got a degree of potency that the Blue Jackets — let alone Jenner — have never before seen.

In other words, it's fair to say that Jenner will be playing with talent that will allow the captain to get plenty of assists and, as a result of a defensive focus on the wingers, more chances to put the puck in the net. 

How far that will carry the Blue Jackets is an unknown, particularly with an inexperienced defense and bevy of young forwards behind the top line. 

But it sure will be exciting to see how it all unfolds.