…his career looked like it would be strong until some untimely injuries kept him out of the lineup for long stretches of time.
The 2015 draft for the Blue Jackets is probably the best in their history. GM Jarmo Kekalainen hit on 6 of his 9 picks that day, coming away with four players who have spent significant time in the NHL. Two other players selected that day (Kevin Stenlund and Gabriel Carlsson), became AHL regulars who have seen their share of NHL ice as well.
The club landed three future top-six defensemen: Zach Werenski at #8 overall, Vladislav Gavrikov in the sixth round … and with their seventh round pick, overage defenseman Markus Nutivaara out of Oulu, Finland.
Nutivaara surprised everyone by winning a spot at camp just over a year later. He never really stood out as a rookie, scoring just 2 goals and 7 points in 66 games for the 2016-17 season – but that’s honestly a compliment to his game.
A quiet two-way defender who just went about his business, Nutivaara became a fixture on the Tortorella-era Blue Jackets, and his career looked like it would be strong until some untimely injuries kept him out of the lineup for long stretches of time. Still, his second season with the club was memorable, as he scored 7 times and added 16 assists for a career-high 23 points in 61 games played.
But, he’s a solid two-way player who skates well, can chip in offensively, and is an underrated defender who doesn’t make many glaring mistakes. To date, he’s skated in 275 NHL games and has 15 goals and 71 points, while never being a minus player. He’s still poking around the NHL, currently signed with the San Jose Sharks, but sitting on IR.
Nutivaara is one of those players who just came out of nowhere, does his job, and settles into a depth role wherever he goes. A solid find by the scouting staff of the Blue Jackets.