It's no coincidence that the Blue Jackets have won both of their games since they inserted Nick Blankenburg into the lineup.
Of course, he's not the only reason they overcame multiple two-goal deficits against the Canucks and Predators, but he's certainly made a major impact.
On Thursday, Blankenburg recorded the primary assist on Johnny Gaudreau's goal to cut the Nashville lead in half in the third period and scored the game-winner himself.
Johnny Gaudreau #13— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 21, 2022
resident Taylor Swift conspiracy theorist pic.twitter.com/Q91RBCleMo
cheesin for the BlankenBOOM pic.twitter.com/AqYBbwbO0s— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 21, 2022
On Tuesday, he recorded five hits, four shots on goal, and a blocked shot.
Among Jackets players with at least two games played, Blankenburg is first in 5v5 expected goals for percentage (75.67%), 5v5 scoring chances for percentage (72%), and high-danger chances for percentage (80%), according to naturalstattrick.com.
Right now, Blankenburg's play is keeping Adam Boqvist, a former No. 8 overall draft pick and the recipient of a three-year/$2.6M AAV contract extension, out of the lineup. In comparison, Blankenburg went un-drafted, signed with the Jackets after his senior year at Michigan, and is currently in the first year of a two-year/$825k AAV contract. This isn't a shot at Boqvist but Blankenburg has had to earn every second of ice time as a Jacket and he's made the most of it.
The defenseman that will be a healthy scratch because of Blankenburg's emergence is up to Brad Larsen, but one thing's for sure, Blankenburg has earned a spot in the lineup and should be playing every game until further notice.
what a HIT from Blanks pic.twitter.com/ZpEjr16USF— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) October 21, 2022
The Jackets found themselves a diamond in the rough and a player who stands at 5 feet, 9 inches, but plays much bigger than that.
That 780k cap hit looks like a bargain already.