Markus Nutivaara Says He Has "More to Show" Despite a New Contract From the Blue Jackets

By Rob Mixer on March 29, 2018 at 6:12 pm

Markus Nutivaara usually has a smile on his face.

That's the type of person he is. Affable, enjoyable, and his teammates love him.

John Tortorella and the Blue Jackets coaching staff have grown to love him, too, not just as a person but as a player. He brings an element that teams covet: an excellent skater with vision and first-pass ability that gets the puck going "north" and into the offensive zone. As the Blue Jackets have transformed their back end into one of the NHL's most mobile and productive units, Nutivaara has been a significant piece.

His four-year contract extension, formally announced Thursday by the Blue Jackets, cements him as a cornerstone piece of the defense for the foreseeable future. Everyone seems thrilled with the outcome.

"I think Nuti is probably playing with the highest level of confidence since he's been with us," Tortorella said Thursday morning in Calgary. "He's healthy. He's good for us in the room, he's got a great personality. It's a really good contract for him and a good contract for us. You can see him getting better and better."

Nutivaara, the 189th overall pick in 2015, burst on the scene last year by making the team out of camp. This year, he wanted to cement his place in the lineup and he's done that with his second-half surge; Tortorella doesn't want to envision a lineup without him in it, and Nutivaara said he's still trying to solidify himself at the NHL level. A new contract and security doesn't change that.

"I have more stuff to show. I'm not happy yet," he said. "I have good teammates and good coaches...they've helped me a lot (to) get my confidence up and show everybody what I've got. It relaxes me, gives me a confidence boost again."

The $10.8 million pact ($2.7 million annually) locks him in with the Blue Jackets through 2022, joining an impressive group that already includes Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Ryan Murray. Nutivaara missed a chunk of this season due to injury and then had to work his way back in the mix, especially after the Blue Jackets bolstered their defense at the trade deadline with the acquisition of Ian Cole, who has been rock solid.

"I just wanted to get back on the ice as soon as I can," Nutivaara said of his injury and the subsequent push to return. "There were those trades and made a little bit harder to get back in the lineup. I knew when I got the chance, I (wanted) to stay there."


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