Dalton Prout burst onto the scene last year, grabbed a spot on the blue line and never looked back. That is until this season, October 15th, 2013, and tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Now Prout has found himself to be a healthy scratch for possibly two games in a row, and I’m asking myself has Dalton found himself in Todd Richards dog house?
Dalton played 28 games with the Blue Jackets last season, and was arguably the best blue liner that the Columbus Blue Jackets had last year. I would say Prout, Fedor Tyutin, and Jack Johnson were the backbones of the blue line. Dalton ended up tops on the team with a +15 rating, which also tied for 11th in defenseman in the entire NHL.
The 2013-2014 season hasn’t started off as well for Dalton Prout, he has played in 4 of the 5 games so far and registered a -3 rating up to this point in the season. Prout was a healthy scratch against the Red Wings on Tuesday, and by all accounts will be a healthy scratch in the Bell Centre tonight against the Canadiens. By my eyes Prout hasn’t been the worst blue liner for the Blue Jackets so far this year. James Wisniewski has drawn the ire of some fans, starting the season -2 and has had some pretty sloppy puck handling.
Wiz is making $5.5 million/year, has 3 assists so far this season, and brings a much more offensive touch to the game. Offense is something the Blue Jackets are currently struggling to produce, averaging 2.2 goals a game, which ranks 23rd in the league. So I can see why Prout has been benched rather than say Wiz, I just hope this benching is taken the right way by the younger Prout. Prout is 23, will be a restricted free agent at the end of next year, and I would hate to have this stunt his growth with the Blue Jackets.
Dalton has prototypical size at 6’3″ 222 lbs. and has the potential to be on the Blue Jackets blue line for a long, long time. That is something unheard of here in Columbus, unless you count Rostislav Klesla, and I think Prout can be far and away better than Klesla. Now I am no head coach, I know that this can light a fire under a player, and jump-start him to a great rest of the season. For the Columbus Blue Jackets and their fans, lets hope this is the way this situation turns out.
It’s hard for me to trust Blue Jacket head coaches, but I do trust Coach Richards. I just hope he knows what he’s doing, and knows that this could be the best thing for young Dalton at this point in time.