With the Columbus Blue Jackets season over it’s time for the Union and Blue staff to give their evaluation of each player’s year.
Next up for their season evaluation is Cam Atkinson. The Columbus Blue Jackets winger finished the 2017-2018 campaign with 24 goals and 22 assist. Not too shabby for only playing 65 games this year.
Those solid numbers came after a terrible start to the season. Atkinson looked lost on the ice and was unable to produce in the first two months of the season. That lack of production didn’t stop the CBJ from extending Cam’s contract by adding seven more years and bumping his average annual salary up to $5.875 million a year.
Cam only had six goals and three assist through the first 25 games of the year though. That level of play led to Coach John Tortorella healthy scratching Cam on December 9th against Arizona.
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To Atkinson’s credit he owned his level of play and accepted the scratch like a professional. “It’s a wake-up call,” said Atkinson. “I take full responsibility. I know I need to be way better, and I will be.”
And better he was. From that point on Cam went on to have four points in his next five games before the bad luck bug that hit the entire team in the depths of winter hit Cam as well. In a home win against Philadelphia on December 23rd, Cam suffered a broken foot that would sideline him for a month.
It was a tough month for the Jackets who went on to spiral out of playoff contention without Cam in the lineup. With his return in late January though the Jackets finally got the scorer they knew they had on the team. In his final 32 games of the year Cam racked up 33 points including a hat trick agains the Flyers in March. Atkinson also scored four points in the Jackets six playoff games.
Up and Down Year for Cam
It was certainly a roller coaster year for Atkinson. Starting the year the way he did was disappointing for him and the team. But then he got a major contract extension. Then Cam broke his foot and the season looked doomed. Then he came back and averaged more than a point per game.
Cam Atkinson has been a consistent presence in the lineup for the Jackets and this year with his broken foot was his first true deviation from that. For the first time since Cam was 23, he failed to play in more than 78 games in a season. Even though he missed a month, he still put up some great numbers January on and showed that the Jackets signed a great scoring winger for less than 8% of the salary cap.
Cam will play for Team USA in the World Championships this year and then look to have a career season in 2018. Cam is primed to score another 30 goals alongside Pierre-Luc Dubois and Artemi Panarin on the Jackets top line. Expectations should be high for Atkinson next year.