I thought we could do something a little fun, mixing up the normal formula of naming a most valuable player for a particular season, and hash out who is the Blue Jackets MVP for the 2014 calendar year. Below are the candidates I've selected, based solely on their playing time on the ice in a Blue Jackets sweater. So, as far as I'm concerned, injuries, contract disputes, or playing for another team should not count against them. Write-in candidates are welcome in the comments.
Here are my candidates for 2014 Blue Jackets Player of the Year.
- - -
What needs to be said? Without Bob, right now this team would be, frankly, a disaster. He keeps them in far too many games and is more than deserving of being a Vezina winner. If he keeps this play up, he'll add a few more trophies to that shelf in no time.
He enters the final game of 2014 with 36 wins in 65 games (including playoffs) - not too shabby.
It needs to be said - the Jackets have never had a point per game player over the course of an entire season, and Johansen could very well be the first. Playoffs included, he has 68 points in the 92 games of 2014 heading into the New Year's Eve game against Minnesota.
He's truly emerged as a top line talent and is now the type of player other teams focus on shutting down every night. Still with that added attention, he's put up 31 points in 34 games this season. He's playing more minutes, and in more defensive situations as well. His faceoff percentage continues to be outstanding, often winning over 60% of the draws in any given game. He's the complete package, and once the rest of the roster is a bit healthier, taking some pressure (and minutes) off of Johansen, he could become the league's elite.
Is it luck? Is it skill? Is it the shoes? With 31 points in 33 games this season, the Jackets could be on their way to having their first two point per game players in a single season. His shooting percentage is ridiculously high, yes, but he's also 27 years old and never been given the opportunity he's had with the Blue Jackets. If there's a blessing in disguise with the injury situation, it's that Foligno has firmly established himself as a top 6 forward, no longer thought of as a 2nd/3rd line "tweener" that often gets the short end of the stick when it comes time to put together line combinations.
For the entire year, he's collected 49 points in 73 games, including the huge, huge playoff overtime winner.
All he did in the playoffs last year was completely shut down the best hockey player in the world. And some other stuff.
Oh, Boone Jenner. My man. My captain. He put up the best rookie season for a forward the Blue Jackets have seen since that guy. Yeah, that guy. His stats may not be as impressive as the rest of the guys on this list, but he did tally 12 points in just 20 games this season. Sadly, it will be another month or two until we see him on the ice again due to injury.
A 21 year old pushes the pace of this team and makes veterans around him play better. He's a truly special talent. He plays a physical game, but if he can keep his health, he'll have a long, prosperous career.
He can struggle in his own end, and perhaps his age and physical play when he was younger is catching up to him. But he's an offensive defenseman, and he puts up points. I'm personally of the opinion that if that's what he was brought in here to do, then he's succeeding. I won't put him on blast for the occasional defensive lapse. (Just like I won't call out Jared Boll for scoring a grand total of 5 goals in the last 4 seasons.)
Including a disappointing performance in the playoffs last year, Wisniewski has tallied 48 points in 79 games played this calendar year.
If the last 14 years has taught me anything, it's that it may be a very long time before we see another offensive talent like Wisniewski on the blueline. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Traded for R.J. Umberger straight up. Really? Yes, there's the question of whether or not he'll be an effective player throughout the remainder of his contract. But Umberger, already well on the decline, has just 7 points in 35 games and seems to have found out you can't go home again.
Meanwhile, Hartnell has 19 points in 29 games played, has been a fixture in the top 6, and added much needed passion and physical play to the top of the lineup in the absence of Dubinsky and Jenner.
You picked up who of off waivers? Connauton might be riding a hot streak. But like Mark Letestu before him, the Blue Jackets may have found a player who really did just need a change of scenery and a coaching staff that believed in him. 7 points in 14 games while playing an all-around solid game at only 24 years old puts Connauton well on the way to a permanent home in Columbus.
This may be more of a nomination out of respect for turning his game up a few notches since being acquired, but if we're judging just by his on-ice performance in a union blue sweater, he may soon be a force to be reckoned with.
- - -
What do you think?