Sean Kuraly, 6-2, 205 pounds

January 20, 1993 (29 ..."/> Sean Kuraly, 6-2, 205 pounds

January 20, 1993 (29 ..."/>

2022 Season Preview: Sean Kuraly

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 05: Sean Kuraly #7 of the Columbus Blue Jackets (L) speaks with linesman Brandon Gawryletz #64 in a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on April 05, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 05: Sean Kuraly #7 of the Columbus Blue Jackets (L) speaks with linesman Brandon Gawryletz #64 in a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on April 05, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Sean Kuraly, 6-2, 205 pounds

January 20, 1993 (29 years old)

Signed as a free agent, July 28, 2021

Cap hit: $2.5M through 2024-25

Role: Bottom six center

Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports /

A lot of Blue Jackets fans voiced displeasure when the club announced the signing of Sean Kuraly to a 4-year, $10 million dollar contract. To date, his best season in the NHL was in 2019-20, where he had a 6 goal, 23 point effort in 69 games. Indeed, this contract seemed too expensive, and about two years too long. But, if the first season in Columbus is any indication for the future; this might turn out to be a great bargain buy for the team.

Central Ohio born and raised, Kuraly returned home and was nothing short of outstanding in his first season as a Blue Jacket. He skated in 77 games, scoring career highs in goals (14), points (30), and penalty minutes (61) – all while carrying a positive +/- rating in a mostly defensive role. He was an energetic play driver for the team, bringing physicality and speed in all situations. His tandem with Eric Robinson helped the play of whoever was on the other wing, keeping things simple and allowing whoever that player was on their flank the opportunity to be productive.

Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports /

While it’s not likely that he will become anything more than a third or fourth line center in the NHL, Kuraly understands his role and is a professional. He’s a great faceoff guy. He uses his size and speed to put defenses on their heels, then has the strength and physicality to win board battles and get to the front of the net. Defensively, he was stellar. He often faced top opposition and held his own – really, he was everything you want in a bottom-six center.

Three Keys to Success

  1. Energy. It’s not easy bringing energy every night, but he did it pretty much every shift last year. Keep the feet moving, play up and down hockey, and be an exciting, physical player.
  2. Keep it simple. No need to try to play outside of his game, because this team is now loaded with offensive talent. 30 points is fantastic, but not necessarily key. Be the defensive stalwart, win faceoffs, and punish opposing defensemen.
  3. Lead. This is a young team and Kuraly is one of the veteran leaders up front. His energy and compete level are infectious, traits that every young player should see from the veterans in this league.

2022-23 Expectation: Depth and development.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Kuraly and Robinson will often be flanked this season by a young scoring winger. Be it Yegor Chinakhov, Kent Johnson, or Kirill Marchenko; their main goal and focus should be to keep things simple and help these players along. He’ll be vital to this team’s success in a depth role – especially on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle. While many thought his contract looked ugly at the time it was signed, I think many would agree that he outperformed his $2.5M salary last season. If he can keep up that kind of play, we’ll look back on this one as a no brainer deal. Sean Kuraly is a perfect fit for the young Blue Jackets. Read: 2022 Season Preview: Joonas Korpisalo