Tied for the second-worst record in the NHL, it's safe to say that the Columbus Blue Jackets have been disappointing so far this season. Several players, such as Cole Sillinger, have contributed to the team's down year with slumps of their own. While others, such as Sean Kuraly, have been bright spots for the struggling team.
One such bright spot is Kuraly's linemate, Mathieu Olivier. The Mississippi native came to the Blue Jackets in a trade for a fourth-round pick this past summer. He spent the first three years of his career with the Nashville Predators where he played in just 48 total games. He also averaged just 10:11 seconds per contest.
Columbus brought Olivier in as a depth piece to provide toughness to a roster that for much of last season was accused of being too soft. However, with how deep the team looked to be at the start of this season, it wasn't a certainty that he would even make the opening-night roster. But not only did he make the roster, he has played in all but three games and has enjoyed a career renaissance in the process.
The right-winger has never been known for his offense, scoring just seven total points in his entire career with the Predators. And while he hasn't exactly lit the world on fire this season either, he is on pace to score two-and-a-half times as many points as he had in his first three seasons combined.
Even though he is a forward, Olivier's value has always been found more in his defense and physical play, with this year being no exception. He is fourth on the team in hits and is on pace to put up 154 this season, which would shatter his previous record of 62. He is also third amongst Jackets' forwards in blocked shots with 16, which would amount to almost four times his previous season-high if he were to stay on pace.
He has also played the role of enforcer for the CBJ this season, recording more penalty minutes and penalty minutes drawn than any other player.
While Olivier will never become a household name, his combination of tenacious play, sacrificing his body to protect his teammates, and defensive prowess has endeared him to the fifth line and made him an invaluable piece of this Blue Jackets team.