Our Friday Feature article this week has us taking a look at the five greatest single seasons by a Blue Jacket skater. While the team has had limited success, there have been some really good standout seasons by individual players – proof that the team has had its share of stars, just never enough of them at any one time.
The first four places on this list are pretty hard to debate, but you could make a case for a few other contenders for fifth place. Whether it’s Rick Nash earning a share of the Maurice Richard Trophy in his 41-goal sophomore season; or Ray Whitney still quietly sitting fourth in single season scoring (76 points in 2002-03). For my money, it was hard to omit Nash’s injury-shortened 2005-06 season, so I’ll agree that we left some glaring omissions here. But, I had to choose five to keep this from being a tedious read.
We’ll start in reverse order and count down to number one. It’s important to note that two of the biggest things I took into consideration here, were the success of the team and the level of support each player got in each of these seasons. This kept me from just picking the five highest point totals and being too obvious.
#5: Rick Nash’s two-way dominant 2007-08 season…
To that point in his career, Rick Nash had been well established as one of the top goal scorers in the NHL. But it was in this 2007-08 season where Rick really emerged as a dominant two-way power forward under head coach Ken Hitchcock.
While he didn’t finish in the top-10 in goals or points, Nasher led the Jackets with 38 goals and a then-career high 69 points. He added 95 penalty minutes and a +2 rating, helping the team to a then-franchise best 80 points. They didn’t make the playoffs that season, but Nash further established himself as a superstar by becoming one of the best two-way wingers in hockey.
He led the team by just 8 points (Nikolai Zherdev, 61), but played on a team whose third leading scorer was his center, Michael Peca; who scored just 34 points that season. Offensive stalwart (this is a joke) Jan Hejda led the team from the back end with 32 points, and was followed up by Jason Chimera (31), Manny Malhotra (29) and Sergei Fedorov (28). Just looking at this roster, it’s amazing that anyone was able to achieve nearly 40 goals and 70 points. This was a terrific year for Rick, easily one of the best in his career.