Columbus Blue Jackets: Predicting a Cam Atkinson Extension

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16: Cam Atkinson
COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16: Cam Atkinson /

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a major roadblock. They need to sign Cam Atkinson to an extension before he reaches unrestricted free agency next offseason.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson, 28, had a career year last season when he scored 35 goals and added 27 assists. His three year, $3.5M AAV contract is set to expire on July 1, 2018. If he doesn’t get an extension, it could create a potential locker room distraction entering the year. A few comparable players would include Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens, Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes, and Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators.

Max Pacioretty

The most direct comparison in both stats and age would be Max Pacioretty, however the style of play is very different. Another difficulty when trying to use this contract as a comparison is the fact that it was signed in 2012, before Pacioretty became an established top line player. Pacioretty scored the same amount of goals as Atkinson last season, but his point totals were a bit higher due to five additional assists. Pacioretty’s size, 6’2″ and 215 lbs are a much greater asset than Atkinson’s 5’8″ and 182 lbs, which undoubtedly increases Pacioretty’s value. Unfortunately he is severely underpaid and it makes this contract difficult to use as a true comparison.

Pacioretty’s 2016-2017 Stat Line: 35-32-67

Pacioretty’s 2017-2018 Cap Hit: $4.5M (

Jeff Skinner

Jeff Skinner’s contract was also signed in 2012, however he was already a rising star at that point in time. Skinner is only 3 inches taller and 20 lbs heavier than Atkinson and it is shown by a very similar style of play. Skinner’s goal scoring prowess has never been in question, however his constant injury troubles prior to the 2015 -2016 season prevented him from becoming a household name in the NHL. Following his second almost-completely healthy year, Skinner has begun showing how big of a force he actually is. Skinner scored a few more goals than Atkinson, but had less assists, which make the point totals fairly similar.

Skinner’s 2016-2017 Stat Line: 37-26-63

Skinner’s 2017-2018 Cap Hit: $5.725M (

Filip Forsberg

Filip Forsberg has been a force for the Nashville Predators since being acquired from the Washington Capitals for Martin Erat. Forsberg is entering the second year of his second NHL contract, and at 23 years old, it can be easily assumed that a large portion of his cap hit was due to his potential to grow. Atkinson is 5 years older, which eliminates that potential benefit from any type of negotiation. None of Forsberg’s stats were above Atkinson, however he was very close in every category.

Forsberg’s 2016-2017 Stat Line: 31-27-58

Forsberg’s 2017-2018 Cap Hit: $6M (

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

Atkinson’s Extension

After viewing a few comparable players, it becomes clear that Cam Atkinson’s next contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets should be between $5M or $6M per season. Another unmentioned contract comparable would be the newest Blue Jacket, Artemi Panarin who is earning $6M per season with much higher point totals. Paying Atkinson the same or less than Panarin and Forsberg would be difficult, so the contract must be below $6M. At the same time, it must be much higher than the numbers Pacioretty is currently getting.

Skinner earns a slight edge in goal scoring prowess and age over Atkinson, therefore the Columbus Blue Jackets should complete a deal with Atkinson for roughly 3 years and around $5.5M per season. Not only is it fair for Atkinson’s abilities, but it is also a very team friendly contract. If Atkinson’s production continues to grow, then he will earn one more big contract when he is 31 before he begins to regress. It is also possible that Atkinson wants a longer deal. If a deal can be completed for 6 years at roughly the same cap hit, or slightly higher then it becomes a no-brainer for both sides.