Nick Blankenburg, former Michigan Wolverines captain, was signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets as an unrestricted free agent on April 8, 2022. Blankenburg post 14-15-29 for the national semi finalists and was brought in as a test option for a defensive corps that was struggling to find consistency, leadership, and an ability to move the puck and make things happen. Blankenburg stepped into the role and filled it nicely.
In seven games for the club, Blankenburg drew rave reviews. He scored three points, played 20 minutes a night on several occasions while not looking out of place, and provided a stabilizing presence at the bottom of a beaten down and injured defensive group. Blankenburg, who signed a one year entry level deal, will be a restricted free agent but almost certainly back with the team next year. Players and fans quickly took a liking to the diminutive former Wolverine and the team will be hoping he builds on his strong debut next year.
Games played: 7
5v5 CF%: 53.4%
5v5 FF%: 53.0%
Nick Blankenburg is out of contract this summer after signing a one year entry level deal as an undrafted free agent, but remains a restricted free agent under Blue Jackets control per PuckPedia. I would fully expect Columbus to re-sign him to play in the bottom four next year, replacing one of Gavin Bayreuther or Gabriel Carlsson on a regular basis.
Blankenburg scored his first career NHL goal, a game winner, to beat the Edmonton Oilers on a Sunday afternoon with his family in attendance. Pretty hard to top that.
Blankenburg didn’t play nearly enough games to qualify for a “tough stretch” or a “low point” in the traditional sense, but getting banged up and missing the final game of the regular season as he played just over 14 minutes in his final two games probably stung a bit - he had played north of 20 minutes per game in the previous three.
I would give Nick Blankenburg an A for his stretch in Columbus. He was signed to be a depth player, likely earned a second contract from the club, and played well enough to earn a spot on Team USA for the upcoming World Championships. Hard to critique that stretch after leaving Michigan.
How would you grade Nick Blankenburg’s 2021-22 season?
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