The Cannon Top 25 Under 25 — #3 Boone Jenner
Boone Jenner came of age in the 2015-16 season, tying for 18th in the NHL with 30 goals, playing 82 games, and generally looking like the force the Blue Jackets expected when they selected him in the 2nd Round of the 2011 Entry Draft, the #37 pick overall. Suffice it to say that there are probably 25 other teams wondering why they didn't take him in the 1st round.
Jenner plays the kind of all around game that hockey purists love. He has speed, puck handling ability and a nasty shot. He can protect the puck with his frame, and is not afraid of exerting himself physically whenever the situation calls for it —- and sometimes when it doesn't.
After a tepid statistical debut in the 2013-14 season, Jenner was plagued by injuries in 2014-15, posting only 17 points in 31 games. Ironically, just as Jenner regained health and form, the franchise itself was heading the other direction. However, the mere fact that Jenner rose above that to be a force in the offensive end is a tribute to both his ability and his character. Jenner seemed to thrive upon John Tortorella's greater emphasis on speed and skill, to good advantage.
As good as Boone was last season, there remains plenty of room for improvement. He registered only 19 assists, suggesting that his vision and passing can be honed a bit, and his minus-15 ranking put him in danger of earning the Green Jacket for the biggest negative number. (That honor was shared by Jack Johnson and Brandon Dubinsky at minus-16). Jenner needs to learn more discipline and responsibility in the defensive end, which will save Tortorella's hair for a few more years. Still, last season represented a huge leap for the fan favorite.
Outlook for 2016-17
The sky is the limit for Jenner, who many consider to be future captain material. However, before he can think of that, he needs to learn to play the 200 foot game without sacrificing his offensive punch. That task is right in Tortorella's wheelhouse, as he loves to squeeze the most out of young talent -- teaching the finer points of the game.
With a John Tortorella Training Camp in the offing, the Blue Jackets will likely be in the best condition of their lives when the regular season begins, and that can only help a guy like Jenner, who thrives on effort, and just needs those rough edges of discipline and game management smoothed out a bit. Look for Jenner to crack the sixty point barrier this season.