Columbus Blue Jackets 2023-24 Season Preview: Boone Jenner

The Blue Jackets have plenty of question marks heading into this upcoming season, but one player that we know we can rely on is returning captain Boone Jenner. He’ll likely start his year centering one of the team’s top two lines – but where will he be when the season comes to an end?

C/LW Boone Jenner
6’2″, 203 pounds
2022-23 stats: 68GP, 26G, 19A, 45Pts, -32, 51PIMs
Acquired: Drafted 2nd round (#37 overall), 2011 NHL Draft
Contract: $3.75M through 2025-26
Role: Do-it-all captain

The longest tenured current Jacket is just 17 games away from tying Rick Nash for the most games played in a Jacket sweater. After being selected by the team way back in 2011 – that’s the year they traded Jakub Voracek away in the Jeff Carter trade, if you’re keeping track – Boone has been Mr. Blue Jacket over the last decade. He’s bounced up and down the lineup and played whatever role needed by this team, including acting as its top line center for the last couple of seasons.

He’ll probably start the upcoming season out in the same role, centering Johnny Gaudreau and one of Kirill Marchenko, Patrik Laine, or one of the other right wings battling for a job this fall. Incoming coach Mike Babcock has been vocal about wanting two 200-ft players on each line, and the Jackets don’t really have anyone else suited for that role alongside Gaudreau. Boone wasn’t completely out of place there last season, scoring the second most goals of his career (26), while giving the team reliable minutes when he was healthy.

The biggest concern here is his health holding up; playing him in this role stretches Boone probably further than he’s meant to be stretched. With a history of back issues, it’s hard to see this team rolling him out for 18-22 minutes a night for too much longer. And, let’s be honest, as good and reliable as Boone is – he’s best suited in a middle-six role on a contending team. He’s a damn good middle-six player, though.

Feb 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner (38) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Three keys to success:
  1. Stay healthy. He missed time due to a broken hand (unfortunate shot to the thumb), and an “upper body” ailment at the end of the season; which is probably a direct reflection of him playing too much. Managing his time should help him get through a (mostly) full season.
  2. Lead the charge. Boone goes to work and does whatever it takes to help the team, so this one comes naturally for him. The younger guys on this team will look up to him, and learn a lot about being pros.
  3. Just be Boone. Win puck battles, own the front of the net, and be the reliable two-way player he’s always been. This team will rally around him and find success.

By season’s end, ideally, Boone Jenner is playing on the second or third line. That’s not a knock on him at all, it’s just where he’s more suited to play if this team is going to improve. This would mean that someone has stepped up and taken his job away, which would be huge for both Boone and this team moving forward. I don’t think it’s unfair to set an expectation of 20-25 goals and 45-50 points for him; if he can do that, it’s a successful year.