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2019-20 Player Review: Boone Jenner needs a new role

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Jenner was miscast as a top 6 center

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Time has no meaning in 2020, but nonetheless it doesn’t feel like that long ago that Boone Jenner broke out as a rookie in 2013-14, scoring 16 goals, earning his way into a top six role, and then adding another three goals in the postseason. Two years later, he scored 30 goals in an otherwise disappointing season for the team, cementing his status as a top six power winger.

Over the last two seasons, due to an injury to Brandon Dubinsky and ineffective play from Alexander Wennberg, Jenner was moved to center. His faceoff numbers have always been strong, and it seemed like he could handle the defensive responsibilities of that position.

This hasn’t actually worked out as hoped. As MrSwift demonstrated in January, in addition to an offensive decline, Jenner’s even strength defensive numbers were also poor. This carried over into the postseason, with Jenner having the second worst CF% on the team at 38.1 (ahead of only Scott Harrington, who just played one game).

Thanks to injuries, Jenner was one of only three forwards to play all 70 games (along with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Gustav Nyquist). He was second in minutes per game, behind just Nick Foligno. It seems insane for him to have more time than Dubois, though much of that is accounted for via the penalty kill. He had 25 more shorthanded minutes than anyone else. As MrSwift’s article pointed out, his results on the PK were good. The underlying numbers tell a different story, however. This Natural Stat Trick page shows the five Jackets forwards with the bulk of the PK minutes: Jenner, Foligno, Wennberg, Riley Nash, and Cam Atkinson. Jenner by far allowed the most shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts, and shots on net (per 60 minutes). He allowed the most expected goals against, but had the second best goals against, due to the best on-ice save percentage of the group (.918).

Is there a silver lining going forward? Maybe. Thanks to the acquisition of Max Domi and Mikko Koivu, Jenner can move back to his original position of wing. This allows him to get back to a role of forechecking and crashing the net. He had a 12% shooting percentage in his first three seasons, but it had declined to just 6.1% this season. Getting back to high danger areas could bring that percentage back up slightly. Unfortunately, his most likely linemates will be Koivu and Foligno, which means he’ll continue to be deployed in a defensive role.

Boone Jenner 2019-20 Stats

Regular Season

Games Played: 70
Goals: 11
Assists: 13
Points: 24
PIM: 36
5v5 CF%: 46.7
5v5 FF%: 48.5

Playoffs

Games Played: 10
Goals: 1
Assists: 0
Points: 1
PIM: 4
5v5 CF%: 38.1
5v5 FF%: 37.3

Contract Status

Jenner is signed for two more seasons with an annual cap hit of $3.75 million. It’s an overpay for his current production, but not excessively so. He will be 29 when this contract is over, so it seems unlikely his tenure in Columbus will last beyond then unless his play dramatically improves. He could be one of the forwards exposed in the expansion draft next summer. “Boone Jenner: Seattle captain” has a certain ring to it.

Alternately, he could be trade bait at the deadline. If his goal scoring pace can pick up, he can be this year’s version of Blake Coleman for a contending team that wants to add a physical third liner for the playoff push. New Jersey got a top prospect and a first round pick for Coleman. Getting just half of that for Jenner could be a great return for Columbus.

High Point

I considered the October game at Philadelphia, when Jenner scored two goals. Something about the Flyers brings out the best in him, as he has scored more goals against them (nine) than any other opponent.

Instead, I’ll highlight his one postseason point this season. For a few years how he’s struggled to finish on his breakaway opportunities. This one finally found the back of the net. This should have been the insurance goal to finish off Toronto, but a furious last minute comeback erased that.

Low Point

The rest of the postseason was forgettable for Jenner. He was especially exposed against Tampa Bay, where he seemed slow and kept getting stuck in his own zone. He was -5 in the final three games. The coaches finally lost faith in him in Game 5, as he played just 11 shifts and 8:03.

Report Card

Poll

How would you grade Boone Jenner’s season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (1 vote)
  • 17%
    B
    (17 votes)
  • 58%
    C
    (56 votes)
  • 21%
    D
    (21 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (1 vote)
96 votes total Vote Now