The 2017-18 season did not start the way Cam Atkinson would have liked. After scoring 10 power play goals last year, he did not score one this season until February. He missed four games in late October and early November to a lower-body injury. By December, John Tortorella found it necessary to scratch Cam for one game. He started to play better after that, then suffered a foot fracture and missed another month worth of games.
His style of game had not changed; he was shooting at an even higher rate than the previous season. His shooting percentage, however, was far lower than the 14.6% he shot in 2016-17, or the 11.9% he shot in 2015-16. Through his first 32 games (prior to his second injury), he had just 6 goals and 7 assists (a 33 point pace) and scored on only 6.4% of his shots on goal.
Fortunately, when he returned in late January, Cam rediscovered his All-Star form. In his final 33 games, he scored 18 goals and 15 assists - a point per game pace! His shooting percentage regressed to the mean, hitting 13.1% over that span. In a radio interview late in the season, Cam credited a stick change for his initial struggles, then his later success. It’s also worth noting that in the second half of the season he was placed on a line with Artemi Panarin, and the two found that their skill sets complemented each other down the stretch.
Looking forward to next year, Cam will have a new contract. The expiring free agent signed a new contract on November 16. It is a 7-year deal that will carry an annual cap hit of $5.875 million. He will be 35 at the end of the deal and may decline towards the end, but I believe he has several more productive seasons in him. He has scored 20+ goals in five straight seasons, including 35 last year and 24 this year (for a pace of 30 goals over 82 games).
Cam Atkinson 2017-18 Stats
Games played: 65
Time on ice: 18:54
Penalty Minutes: 14
Corsi For (even strength): 52.1%
In the middle of a 10 game winning streak, the Blue Jackets traveled to Philadelphia while battling with the Flyers for playoff position. Cam came through with a hat trick, the fourth of his career. It inspired three of his teammates to follow with hat tricks of their own over the next four road games.
The healthy scratch on December 9. This was the first healthy scratch for Cam since early in the 2015-16 season. Fun fact: that healthy scratch came in the final game of Todd Richards’ tenure as Blue Jackets head coach.
How would you grade Artemi Panarin’s 2017-18 season?
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