Cam Atkinson might have been the singular soul that really felt the burden of trying to create offense for the Blue Jackets last season. I mean, everyone as a team, probably. But when you’re paid to snipe and score, you better do it, and Atkinson had troubles all season.
Fresh off a career-year in which he scored 69 points (nice) and 41 goals, his 2019-20 campaign only saw him pot 12 goals in 44 games. While also struggling to just find the net, he also missed a significant time with a pesky ankle injury on separate occasions.
Games Played: 44
5v5 CF%: 50.0
5v5 FF%: 51.4
Games Played: 8
5v5 CF%: 39.6
5v5 FF%: 41.1
Atkinson is entering year three of his seven-year deal and comes with his annual cap-hit of $5,875,000, ditto for his yearly AAV. His 10-team no trade list kicked in this past June, which runs through the end of his deal in 2024-25.
The highs were few and far between for No. 13 in 2019-20. Things actually seemed promising when Atkinson scored two goals in the teams’ first three games. While goals weren’t coming easy throughout the season, he was finding himself on the scoresheet with assists, including a stretch of four-straight games and six of seven games in November.
The inability to consistently score is well-documented but there’s the injuries as well. That's pretty much it. But seriously, check out the difference between when he had Panarin and when he didn’t.
You see that blue in the far left corner? But I should note that Atkinson was without Panarin for 238:01 minutes of 5v5, or the equivalent of nearly three games, so it’s a bit of a small sample size (431:03 all strengths).
But we know the team as a whole, Atkinson included, misses the game-breaking and offensive prowess Panarin could provide.
Per Hockey Reference, Atkinson’s shots through percentage was 63.5%, the second-highest for his career. However, per his profile page on Natural Stat Trick, Atkinson’s iHDCF per 60 at 5v5 was 3.05 in 2019-20, down from 4.46 the season before.
His iXG dropped from 17.41 to 7.96, and Atkinson’s shooting percentage was just 5.66%, down from his career-high 12.69% the season prior. His 2015-16 season is the only other season in which he had a double-digit total (10.37%).
I was one to give Atkinson the benefit of the doubt with the slow start because he’s an experienced NHLer, but it’s time to get going right now. It doesn’t matter that Panarin is gone. You’re being paid to score goals. He and his line mates will have to figure it out. Hopefully he’ll be healthy.
How would you grade Cam Atkinson’s season?
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