Boone Jenner: One of The NHL's Most Underrated Forwards

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The word underrated is an overplayed rhetoric in sports sometimes, and can mean different things to different people. But, by definition it is “to rate or evaluate too low; underestimate,” as stated by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and when I look at that definition no NHL player is more of a poster boy for it than that of Columbus Blue Jackets forward, Boone Jenner.

Let’s look at Jenner in a purely scouting fashion, something that makes it easy to see that he possesses the proper physique, and skills, to be an All-Star in this league. He’s 22 years old, he’s left-handed, and while he is listed as a center, he is just as effective when playing as a wing. He’s relatively big at 6’2″ and 202 lbs, and is strong as a bull. What more could you ask for in a player that you were able to snag in the second round of a draft? He’s got all of the intangibles you look for in a player in the league now days, being strong, physical, hard working, and very skilled. But he barely gets a passing glance when talking about players who should have been an All-Star.

Now, let’s take it a step further in the scouting and look at a bit of his statistics since coming into the league, numbers that anyone would be happy with. Jenner was drafted 37th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and he has slowly turned himself into a very solid player on the stat sheet. He notched 16 goals and 29 points in his rookie season while appearing in 72 games. His sophomore season took a bad turn when he suffered a broken left hand and a stress fracture in his back, forcing him to miss a combined 51 games due to the injuries, while still managing to score 9 goals and 17 points in 31 games.

So far in 2015-16, he has established himself as a regular first line option under coach John Tortorella, and has posted a very respectable 19 goals and 32 points in 59 games. When you look at this in comparison to the rest of the Blue Jackets organization, he sits fifth in points on the team, tied for eighth in assists, and he’s tied with Cam Atkinson in third for goals. For a guy who many see as a mid-range player, with no real potential to score goals on a consistent basis, this has been a fantastic year for him to prove that wrong.

The point of those statistics isn’t to show that he’s just good on paper, but that he’s contributing in all facets of the game, ones which he has improved on every year since being coming into the NHL. He’s turned himself into an impressive force on the power play for the Blue Jackets, with his six power play goals being second only to Scott Hartnell (8). He’s also been able to snag himself two game winning goals, and has taken a whopping 161 shots this season, only trailing to Columbus’ sole All-Star, Brandon Saad.

Now, you could talk all day about the numbers, and they don’t mean that much if the product isn’t blatantly visible, but that’s just the point with this. They are blatantly obvious to anyone who has caught a Columbus game this year, as he helps keep the team rolling end to end, night in and night out. Despite being an integral piece to the success of the organization, he’s not even fully respected as such within the Blue Jackets fan base, something that should be seen as a massive disappointment.

Now, you may be starting to think something along the lines of “those numbers really aren’t all-star numbers, why should I even consider Boone Jenner as among them?”. And, to that, the best thing to make any remaining doubt dissipate would be to compare him to the other All-Star players from his own division, the Metropolitan. First, let’s look at what he does better than superstar Evgeni Malkin.

Malkin is obviously a bigger name in the league, and produces a higher point total than that of Jenner, with Malkin having 23 goals and 49 points in comparison to Jenner’s 32. But, Jenner doesn’t just contribute solid numbers offensively, as he outshoots Malkin 161 to 140, out-hits Malkin 160 to 25, blocks more shots with 49 to his name compared to Malkin’s 15, has a better faceoff percentage with 46% compared to 42%, and has less giveaways, with only 19 to Malkin’s 45.

It’s easy to say “they’re two totally different types of players, so those numbers just show they play a different game.” The best way to put it is this; Jenner isn’t the prolific scorer that Malkin is, but plays a far more well-balanced game, is vastly more physical, and has more to his game than just scoring. For almost any team that doesn’t have two All-Star centers on their roster, that looks like phenomenal numbers.

The same points can be made when comparing his numbers to that of All-Star teammate Brandon Saad, as he is able to beat him out in many different categories. This just goes to show that, unless you’re someone who just focuses on your fantasy hockey roster, it’s plain to see that Jenner is a player with many qualities that every team in the NHL value highly, and he should be getting the credit he deserves, in Columbus and nationwide alike.

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