18-19 Most Valuable Defenseman
The Columbus Blue Jackets blue line no doubt has been the better of the two units. Outside of the top line, the forward group has been wildly inconsistent and, at many points, a liability. The same can not be said about the blue line whose biggest flaw has been an underperforming Zach Werenski who has really turned it on in the month of December and is really finding his game.
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This pick though came down to Seth Jones and Ryan Murray. Jones, after missing seven games to start the season has been the unit’s rock. He is logging insane minutes and is second only to Drew Doughty in time on ice this year. He is contributing on the offensive end with seven goals and 18 assist and is poised to break the 50 point mark yet again. Jones also is an overtime killer as we’ve seen as recently as Saturday night’s winner against Florida.
Ryan Murray has been a revelation and is starting to fulfill the promise that the second overall pick once showed. Murray has been a top pair defenseman all year and is eating huge minutes, averaging over 21 minutes a game. He is doing all this while only taking four minor penalties in the first half of the year.
His offensive numbers aren’t eye popping (1G, 19A) but he is on pace for a career high 40 points. He is only five points shy of his previous career high so he is set to smash that record.
Murray is finally staying healthy (knock on wood) and his high level of play has allowed the Jackets defense to not nosedive during Zach Werenski’s slow start. It has also given the team increased flexibility in their pairings.
Although Murray has been fantastic and might be the team’s biggest surprise this year, Jones is just too good not to be named the most valuable defenseman for the first half. Jones will be in the Norris conversation yet again and if the power play can get any production in the second half, should be in the top three in voting this year.