There’s no question about it: this was one of, and probably the best season in Columbus Blue Jackets history. And they were lead by their youngest players. Some of the team’s youngest players stepped up in the regular season and in the post-season, and now their names are circling for possible captain picks.
Being without a captain has brought two very exciting years for the Jackets, nearly missing the Playoffs last year and then setting multiple franchise firsts and records in the post-season this year. But has it been long enough? Is it time to name a captain? I think if they are going to name someone, this off season will be the time to do it. They are coming off of their best season in franchise history, and many leaders have emerged this year. It would make sense to name someone this off season.
The question remains, then, who will they pick? There were many leaders both on the score sheet and beyond this season, but many of them are some of the youngest players on the team. This shouldn’t be surprising, though, since the Jackets are the youngest team in the league. So, should they name someone who stepped up in scoring and lead the team, even if they are young? Or should they pick someone who has more experience?
As for who stepped up in scoring, the obvious answer is Ryan Johansen. He had a breakout season this year, scoring a career-high 33 goals for 63 points in the regular season and six more points in the Playoffs. He also showed he had a flair for the dramatic, scoring clutch goals at the end of games to carry the Jackets further than expected. Johansen’s heroics lasted all season, and he can only get better. He’ll be 22 when next season starts. He is one of the young guns who lead this team all season.
But is Johansen too young? Should they pick someone who has more experience? Another fan favorite for captain is Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky contributed 16 goals for 50 points this season, and added six more in the Playoffs as well. Dubinsky has stepped up as a leader to the Jackets, and many fans see him as the player who can motivate the team to do even better in the future. Plus, he has experience. He played in the Playoffs four times with the New York Rangers, and has 23 points in 37 career Playoff games. Dubinsky is 28. He has more experience than the young guys, but what counts more?
Another name that has popped up is Jack Johnson. While only contributing 5 goals in 82 games in the regular season, Johnson lead the team with seven points in the Playoffs, three goals and four assists. He certainly emerged as the leader in the post-season. The biggest question here is whether his performance will continue into next season. Can he replicate the kind of play we saw in the post-season? I don’t mean he has to have seven points in every six games, but five goals in 82 games leaves a little room for doubt. However, does point contribution really matter? Many fans see Johnson as the team’s most likely leader, and not just on the stat sheet. In fact, he’s earned the social media nickname of “Captain America” from the fans. He turned hearts with his recent twitter “speech”, which you should definitely check out if you haven’t already. So, is 27-year-old Johnson the right pick for captain?
Overall, what matters more: point contribution or experience? It’s hard to say for sure, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. When (or, if) the Jackets management decides to name a captain, we’ll know which mattered more to the team.