When the Blue Jackets announced the signing of Dublin native Sean Kuraly last summer, it left many fans scratching their heads. For a team with plenty of depth, it seemed an unnecessary move, and many questioned the term given to him. After all, many said: what the team really needs are high end centers, not more depth.
The Blue Jackets signed Kuraly to a four year contract, carrying a cap hit of $2.5m AAV. One year later, this looks like an extremely intelligent move that has already been well worth every penny. Kuraly spent parts of five seasons with the Boston Bruins, and while he didn’t post huge offensive numbers (26 goals, 68 points in 270 games played), he was an effective forechecker who drove play for the Bruins’ bottom six.
Right out of the gate, Kuraly brought energy and leadership to the Blue Jackets lineup. He would go on to post career highs in both goals (14) and points (30), along with 62 minutes in penalties. As advertised, he drove the play when he was on the ice and gave the team plenty of physical play on the fourth line. He became the team’s most trusted defensive zone specialist, was strong in the faceoff circle, and killed penalties. He and Eric Robinson were two of the most consistent forwards for the team all season, and it was their line that seemed to help several other players get their games moving this year.
We can debate all day long about the term given to Kuraly or the AAV, but in my opinion he’s been well worth both figures. You need depth guys to win, and Sean has provided depth and a calm, physical presence to a group that needed some leadership. It’s even better when you find guys like this who know and love the area. Read: CBJ Offseason Gameplan.
This was an important acquisition for a team that has traditionally been thin up the middle. At least for the next three years, we know we can count on our fourth line to provide quality minutes, as long as Kuraly is in the lineup.