Sean Kuraly finally came home when he signed a four-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets last summer. Growing up in nearby Dublin, Ohio, he had been a fan of the club his whole life. He was so excited to get to play for the team he had rooted for since he was a kid.
As a 28-year-old entering his sixth season in the league, Kuraly brought age and experience to a team that started the season as the youngest in the NHL. He also brought physicality and toughness that was sorely lacking due to the recent departure of players such as Nick Foligno and David Savard.
Last season he hit the ground running as he set personal records in goals scored and total points with 14 and 30 respectively. He also was the physical presence the Blue Jackets had hoped for as he led the team in hits with a career-high 240 and finished fifth on the team in takeaways.
Kuraly has continued to build on last season's success and is on pace to finish this season with 31 goals, which would shatter the record he set last year. His 1.65 goals per 60 minutes is more than double his 0.69 rate from last season, and more than three times the 0.49 mark he set in his five years with the Boston Bruins — the only other team he's played for in the NHL.
He is also on pace to post a career-high in total points with 46 (that is almost unheard of for a fourth-line center). Again, the numbers here are well above his historical averages: the 2.47 points per 60 is one full point better than his previous high of 1.47. This season, there are just three Blue Jacket skaters who are performing better on a points per 60 basis: Johnny Gaudreau (3.05), Kent Johnson (2.84), and Yegor Chinakhov (2.53).
Kuraly has also been effective on the defensive end this season, as he is on pace to set a career mark in blocked shots as well.
As the injuries have mounted, he has continued to step up, posting four goals and five total points in the last four games. Kuraly's veteran leadership and tenacious play have been a large part of the reason the Blue Jackets have been able to weather so many injuries and nab nine out of the last 12 available points.