The Columbus Blue Jackets will inevitably see some of their star players leaving town for new destinations. However, their leading goal scorer isn't only coming back, but he's shown zero hesitation when letting everybody know he loves it here in Columbus, Ohio.
"I don't think we need to go out and tell people how special Columbus is," Cam Atkinson said during his interview on exit day last week. "(It's a) very special place here. I love it here...I was in that position last year to be a free agent and I wanted to be here."
"I take a lot of pride in being one of the assistant captains," Atkinson said. "I've been here a long time. A lot of bad times and obviously, recently, a lot of really good times. I wanna see this thing through."
However, Atkinson's scoring production took a bit of a dip after the trade deadline in the final 20 games and he wasn't able to get the puck past Rask in the second round of the postseason.
|Cam Atkinson 2018-19 Season||G||A||PTS|
|First 60 Games||35||24||59|
|Last 20 Games||6||4||10|
|Vs Tampa Bay (4 Games)||2||2||4|
|Vs Boston (6 Games)||0||4||4|
Not seen in the graphic above is power play goals, which Atkinson had eight of in the first 60 games and none in his last 30.
While we're certainly not calling out top goal scorer on the team, Atkinson demands a lot from himself and had the words to back it up.
"For me, I'm never satisfied...I don't like looking at personal accolades," he said. "It was a good year. (I) put up some good points. But I always think there's room for improvement."
"It wasn't my best series (against Boston)," he added. "It's upsetting but there's always a chance to get better and learn from it."
Atkinson will have the burdensome task to prove Columbus is still a contender (even with the likely departures of Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky).
Panarin, by the way, has assisted on 32 of the last 65 regular-season goals Atkinson has registered. Something Atkinson, who's turning 30 in June, probably wouldn't like to be reminded about.
It's also worth noting that the play-making Panarin was amongst elite company, with 44 primary assists for Columbus, who made a postseason appearance for the third consecutive year.
Panarin may have had more time and overall success with Atkinson, but it didn't take anything away from how Atkinson felt about Matt Duchene during their stint together.
“We definitely built some good chemistry when we were playing together,” Atkinson said of Duchene. “He’s a heck of a player and a good person."
"Is it gonna suck if none of these guys come back? Absolutely. It is what it is. It’s their decision.”
Atkinson could be the beneficiary of Duchene re-signing and possibly even play with a new left winger if the Jackets find a willing player to sign via free agency. And the worst case for October is another young roster with tempered expectations.
Regardless of who's on the roster, Atkinson is here to stay.
“I started my career here. I wanna finish my career here," Atkinson said. "I wanna raise my family here."