Now that the All-Star break is behind us, the entire NHL sets an eye towards the annual trade deadline. As is the case this time of year, rumors are flying around like crazy, and with the Jackets sitting dead last in the NHL, fans of other teams are hoping to see their clubs poach away talent at bottom dollar. One name that’s surprisingly come up in these rumors: Boone Jenner.
Typically when this kind of rumor pops up, there’s legitimately something there. The old “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” saying, and all that. But for the Jackets, this one is a little bit surprising and seems to come out of nowhere. Jenner is the team’s captain, a guy who has done everything right for this franchise since they drafted him.
He’s spent much of his career as a winger in the middle six of the lineup, but is currently centering the top line on most nights, working surprisingly well with superstar Johnny Gaudreau. This points back to what I said a moment ago: he’s doing exactly what they need him to do.
Boone’s value to the very young Blue Jackets almost cannot be measured by on-ice statistics, but we can start there. Through 40 games, he’s tied for the team lead in goals (14) and sits fourth in points (26), despite missing 11 games due to a broken hand. He’s scoring at a career-high .65 points per game, while also taking most of the key faceoffs and matching up against the top centers from the opposition on a nightly basis.
He does this by going to the difficult areas – like the front of the net, where he plays on the power-play; and he’s usually the first guy into the corners on the fore-check. These are exactly the kinds of things you need to see from your veterans when you have a young NHL team, and the captain of the Blue Jackets does them all pretty well. He’s one of the few veterans in the lineup, and he does a little bit of everything pretty well.
For a team so young and desperately thin down the middle, it really doesn’t make much sense at all to trade a productive center like Boone. But his value off the ice is even more immeasurable. Even in the midst of their rebuild (or, reload, if you prefer), they need guys like this around to remain competitive.
Exciting young players are fun to watch, but eventually they have to learn how to play the game the right way, on both sides of the puck, to be successful. Oftentimes, having guys like Jenner around, can make all the difference for a young player in their development. So why trade him at the deadline?