When longtime Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno was traded away at the trade deadline last year, head coach John Tortorella elected to play out the year with no captain and wait to asses the situation in the offseason.
With the offseason, though, came the news that Tortorella would no longer be coaching the Jackets. Even after the club named assistant Brad Larsen as Tortorella's successor, Larsen still took his time naming the captain, even hinting a few times that they may start the season without one. Several candidates were considered for the position, however, and one of the front runners was alternate captain Boone Jenner.
With all of the veterans that were traded away last year, Jenner was the longest tenured Jacket. He was drafted in 2011 and made his NHL debut in 2013. On the first day of the free agent signing period (July 28, 2021), Columbus signed Jenner to a four-year extension, making it clear that he was a part of their plans moving forward. Jenner had long been a fan favorite with his tough play and ability to score with the game on the line. He was also a seasoned veteran and stabilizing presence in the locker room for what would end up being the youngest team in the NHL heading into the 2021-2022 season. Finally, on October 12th, two days before the Blue Jackets' first game of the season, Larsen officially named Jenner as the seventh full-time captain of the Blue Jackets.
With the new extension and captaincy in hand, Jenner started off scoring goals at a torrid and somewhat surprising pace. Through the first 14 games, he had 11 goals and added a couple assists. There seemed to be no way he would be able to keep up his goal scoring pace, but it was a lot of fun watching him find the net so often.
While his goal scoring has slowed down, the assists have picked up a bit. Through 47 games, Jenner has 19 goals and 15 assists — combining for a team-leading 34 points, an average of 0.72 points per game. Entering this season, the 28-year-old had posted 121 goals and 119 assists for 240 points in 530 career games for an average of 0.45 points per game. This is a 60% scoring increase from his career averages and by far his highest single season total to date.
Jenner’s shot accuracy is way up too — his 14.8% shooting percentage this season is up from 10.1% last season, and up even more from his career average of 9.7%. The season may not be over yet, but the sample size is large enough to give us a pretty clear picture of how things are going for the Columbus captain.
Last week, our own Dan Dukart pointed out that the Blue Jackets' top line, which now features Jenner along with Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist, is playing its best hockey this year. Jenner has not only elevated his own game, but those around him are benefitting from his play as well. No one, though, has benefitted more from the line than Laine — he has points in seven consecutive games, just one game shy of the second-longest streak of his career.
The rest of the season will be full of ups and downs, but the steady hand and continued evolution of Captain Jenner has certainly been a highlight.