Markus Nutivaara is just 26-years-old and is among the tenured veterans for John Tortorella on the Blue Jackets, going back to his first full season in 2016-17. Upon completing his fourth NHL season, Nutivaara has only cracked 80 regular-season games played once, at least 60 games in the first two seasons, and just 37 this past season.
Some of that is due to the suspension of the regular season back in March, but Nutivaara still missed 33 games as he battled through injuries and healthy scratches, and saw a dip in ice-time, as he only saw 15:55 on average this past season.
Markus Nutivaara 2019-20 Stats
Games Played: 37
5v5 CF%: 50.2
5v5 FF%: 51.2
Games Played: 2
5v5 CF%: 55.9
5v5 FF%: 55.6
Nutivaara is making $2.7 million annual average value through the 2021-22 season and is a UFA following the 2022-23 season. And who knows if he’s expendable for the Blue Jackets between now and then as defense is a strength for Jarmo Kekalainen and the Blue Jackets. Kekalainen has been ballsy when it comes to the trade market and I’m expecting some kind of trade sooner or later, not that it would be Nutivaara but who knows.
Nutivaara’s first goal of the season last October helped propel the Blue Jackets past the Hurricanes in a 3-2 win. His only multi-point game of the season came in a two-assist game against the Flyers, and he had a mini points-streak when he added an assist against the Predators in the next game. Both of his goals came six days apart.
We know about Nutivaara’s injuries and healthy scratches. In the playoffs, he was scratched for all of two playoff games against the Maple Leafs. In the Game 5 clincher against Toronto, Nutivaara played 1:50 as he just cracked the lineup over Nathan Gerbe as the seventh defenseman.
Markus Nutivaara just fired a shot at his own net. Korpisalo saved it with his right pad. Yikes.... #CBJ— Jacob Myers (@_jcmyers) February 25, 2020
On the depth chart, and after Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, Nutivaara seems to be among equal footing in terms of a lineup spot with those including Scott Harrington, Dean Kukan, Ryan Murray, and Andrew Peeke. Among these four guys, there’s injury concern with the likes of Murray, Peeke is trying to prove himself as a regular contributor, and some guys are just trying to stick as a mid-to-bottom defensive paring. Where is Nutivaara fitting in as we go?
When healthy, he should be more like the Nutivaara that we’ve seen put up the numbers we expect of the prior two seasons.
How would you grade Markus Nutivaara this season?
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