Columbus Blue Jackets: Boone Jenner’s next contract
Boone Jenner is concluding his entry level contract and will be a Restricted Free Agent this offseason. While some are discussing the potential for Jenner to be traded before the deadline, this article assumes Jenner will be resigned and remain a Blue Jacket to continue developing as a top six forward. The 22 year old is a natural center, but has been heavily used on the left wing alongside Brandon Dubinsky this season. Jenner is 6 ft 2, weighing slightly over 210 pounds and has great size for a top six winger in the NHL. While Jenner has battled injuries in the past few seasons, he has shown flashes of being a future leader in the Blue Jackets locker room.
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Why is Jenner valuable to the Blue Jackets?
Currently Jenner is setting career highs in point totals with 19 goals and 13 assists through 59 games played. While the strong skating forward is setting a career year in terms of points, his strength continues to be his two-way style of play and ability to drive possession. If Jenner can remain healthy and continue developing, his leadership will allow him to be mainstay on Blue Jackets top lines now and into the team’s competitive years. Jenner sees time on both the penalty kill and power play, which shows us that the team sees a bright future for the young Canadian.
What can we expect in the next contract?
Boone Jenner has put forward a strong season, but discipline and health are two areas of potential concern for the young talent. Managing only 162 games through three seasons, Jenner has amassed 120 minutes in the penalty box, most of which were accumulated this season. For one of the team’s top penalty killers, that is simply too much time spent in the box and shows a potential discipline concern. It may be nothing, a growing pain, the influence of Scott Hartnell or a red flag for the player. While penalty minutes alone will not heavily impact the cap hit of Jenner’s next contract, it coupled with injury history may impact the term.
A player whose contract may serve as a good framework for an extension is New York Ranger Chris Kreider. Kreider was Jenner’s age and put up similar stat lines when the left winger signed his two year extension as an RFA with the Rangers at an annual cap hit of $2.475 million. A two year extension for Jenner around $2.5 million dollars per season is an appropriate payment for the forward and will allow the Blue Jackets to continue monitoring his development without making a long term commitment. The drawback to a short term deal arises if Jenner’s game takes a significant leap forward in the next two seasons, as Jenner would then be looking at a long term extension with a significant cap hit, likely handcuffing the team in future deals.
If the Blue Jackets are confident with the player they have in Jenner, locking up some of his UFA years in a five year deal may be a smart gamble. The team can likely satisfy Jenner to the five year deal with an annual cap hit of $3 million per season, similar to the deal the New York Islanders gave Michael Grabner prior to the 2011 season. If Jenner continues to develop as expected, this contract could be viewed as a steal and a Saad/Jenner combination would be a formidable tandem to build around. To view the other side of the coin, if Jenner’s development stalls, $3 million is not a bad contract for a middle six forward and the Blue Jackets will avoid stymieing themselves from moving the player if deemed necessary in future seasons.