With the Columbus Blue Jackets season inching closer and closer, it’s time to look at one of the many bright spots in the CBJ’s talent pool; let’s look at Markus Nutivaara.
Markus Nutivaara appeared in 66 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016-2017, his first season in the NHL. For the most part, he held his own. Contributing two goals and five assists, Nutivaara played solid in his chances, but didn’t do anything special. Luckily for him, coach John Tortorella is alright with that.
That is evident by the trust he had in Nutty to take the ice in two of the Blue Jackets’ five playoff games last season against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He validated Torts’ decision by adding a goal and an assist in his postseason debut.
Style of Play
Nutivaara has shown at every level that he is not there to score a lot. He’s a defensive defenseman, so there’s no reason to expect him to be a playmaker like Zach Werenski or Seth Jones. He’s more like David Savard in that he’s going to do his job on defense and it’s just an added bonus if he ends up getting some points on the offensive end.
Nutty was very aggressive and physical in his first year, and there’s no reason to expect that to go away in the coming season. His 36 hits put him in 13th on the team in the category, but it’s all the more impressive when you factor in how little he played compared to his teammates. He also ranked 12th in blocks, so he’s obviously not afraid to give up his body for the betterment of the Jackets.
Position in Lineup
Although our own Tony Mazziotti does not have Nutivaara on the opening night roster, we can still expect him to play a decent amount of time this season, especially after a solid performance in his first playoff games last season.
When Nutty gets into the lineup, he’ll most likely be in the third pairing alongside either Gabriel Carlsson or Ryan Murray. And it’s pretty reasonable to think that he’ll see ice time just because Ryan Murray can’t stay healthy for an extended period. Gabriel Carlsson also has very little NHL experience, so Nutivaara could replace him if the 20-year-old begins to struggle.
Although Markus Nutivaara is not a star on this team, he’s a very important player for the Columbus Blue Jackets. With the uncertainty of Murray’s health and Carlsson’s transition to the NHL, Nutivaara will be the one who has to step in when things get rough on the third pairing. More playing time than last season is almost certain (barring injury), so I would say three goals, nine assists and a whole lot of hits and blocks would be a fair prediction for Markus Nutivaara.