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Who was the Blue Jackets’ MVP in 2021?

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Some diamonds in a very rough season

Columbus Blue Jackets v Florida Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Today we kick off our annual Columbus Blue Jackets season review. Tomorrow we will look at the least valuable players (no shortage of candidates), then we’ll jump into our individual player reviews. But first, let’s cheer up and look at the players who excelled even if the team as a whole did not.

Oliver BJORKSTRAND

The first place to look is at the traditional counting stats. The Maestro has a commanding lead there in goals (18), assists (26), and points (44). In just 56 games, BJORKSTRAND was able to set his career high for points in a season. That would be a 64 point pace in a full 82 game season.

Cam Atkinson

Cam was the next most productive forward, with the second most goals and points and the fourth most assists. The downside, as always, was that he was streaky. Over the first 11 games he had just one goal and three assists. He had a 12 game goalless streak to the end the season before snapping it in the finale. On the other hand, there was a stretch in February where he had 15 points (9G, 6A) in a 13 game span, during which the Jackets remained in the fight for the fourth seed in the Central. For the season at 5v5, he led the team in individual expected goals for (8.56).

Cam also hit several milestones this season: 600th game, 200th goal, and 400th point.

Elvis Merzlikins

At first glance, his case for MVP doesn’t seem very strong. He only started 23 games thanks to a couple of injuries. His save percentage (.916) and GAA (2.77) were ok, but a drop from last season’s numbers. However, he did have a higher ratio of quality starts (60.9%, up from 54.8% last season). His numbers were better than Joonas Korpisalo across the board, and the team performed slightly better (.460 points percentage to .431). His biggest statement came down the stretch. Korpisalo suffered a season-ending injury and the roster was depleted from injuries and trades, yet Elvis carried them to a 2-2-3 record in the final seven starts, with a .935 save percentage and 2.17 GAA.

Zach Werenski

Werenski’s season ended in early April as he had surgery to repair a sports hernia. He revealed at the end of the season that it had been nagging him all year. Despite that, he was on ice for a higher rate of shot attempts for than any other Columbus defenseman. Seth Jones ended up with more assists and points, but if you look at their numbers together and apart (per Natural Stat Trick) the evidence is clear: Werenski made that pair work this year.

Eric Robinson

A wild card choice! Robinson was one of just three forwards (along with BJORKSTRAND and Atkinson) to play in all 56 games. Among the regular forwards (those who played more than 20 games), he leads in all of the possession stats. He also had the third highest ixGF despite shooting just 7.35%. At 5v5 he generally tilted the ice in Columbus’s favor, regardless of who his linemates were.

He also is showing potential as a penalty killer. Among the six fowrards with at least 40 minutes of PK ice time, he had the lowest shot attempts allowed and second lowest unblocked shot attempts allowed.

Who do you think is this season’s MVP? Did I omit a worthy candidate?

Poll

Who was the 2021 Columbus Blue Jackets MVP?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Oliver BJORKSTRAND
    (239 votes)
  • 2%
    Cam Atkinson
    (6 votes)
  • 6%
    Elvis Merzlikins
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    Zach Werenski
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    Eric Robinson
    (16 votes)
  • 4%
    Other (make your case in the comments)
    (13 votes)
296 votes total Vote Now