It’s fair to say Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones deserve their selections to the Honda NHL All-Star Game.
It’s also fair to say their selections cement the two Columbus Blue Jackets as among the top players in not just the star-studded Metropolitan Division but the entire league.
Both are now multi-time selections to the NHL’s midseason celebration, which this year will take place Jan. 26 in San Jose. For Atkinson, it’s a recognition of the sixth-round draft pick’s development into one of the most consistent and dangerous goal scorers in the league. For Jones, it’s continued proof he’s become one of the elite blueliners in the league.
Here’s a look at each Blue Jacket chosen.
Home: Riverside, Conn.
Previous All-Star appearances: Atkinson was chosen for the 2017 All-Star Game in Los Angeles and starred, scoring three goals and adding two assists to help the Metropolitan Division to the victory of the two-round 3-on-3 tournament.
Why he’s an All-Star: Atkinson has already cemented his sixth straight 20-goal season and shows no signs of slowing down with 24 goals and 42 points in 38 games so far this season. He’s on pace to top the 50-goal plateau and almost certainly will pass his career high of 35 goals set two seasons ago. This year, he’s tied for fourth in the NHL in goals, tied for fifth in the league with five game-winning goals, and has two hat tricks to elevate him to the franchise record with six in his career.
Cam says: “It’s always exciting. I take a lot of pride in it. It should be obviously a great event. I know in LA they did a great event there. It’s a little different because my boy (Declan) will be coming. A lot has changed in the last couple of years. … I work hard at my craft and obviously any time you get rewarded to go to the All-Star Game, it’s a huge honor.”
Home: Arlington, Texas
Previous All-Star appearances: Like Atkinson, Jones was tabbed for the 2017 ASG and helped the Metro to the win with two goals and a plus-4 rating in the two games. He also was chosen for last year’s contest but missed the game with illness, sending teammate Zach Werenski to Tampa.
Why he’s an All-Star: Jones finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting a season ago and is again putting together a standout campaign after missing the first seven games with a knee injury. In 32 games, he has six goals and 17 assists for 23 points while posting a plus-6 rating. One of the best two-way D-men in the game, he is second in the NHL in ice time (26:16 per game), has two game-winning goals including one in overtime, and is 12th among league defensemen with 0.72 points per game.
Blue Jackets notes
(Jan. 10) Columbus coach John Tortorella picked up his 600th career NHL win. Captain Nick Foligno returned after missing four games while he was at the side of his 5-year-old daughter who had heart surgery in Boston.
A Columbus restaurant put up a billboard offering Artemi Panarin free meals for life if he re-signs with the Blue Jackets. Columbus is 12-0 on Thursday nights this season.
(Jan. 13) Blue Jackets D Zach Werenski played in his 200th NHL game.
Rick Nash, who was the first star of the Columbus franchise, did the ceremonial puck drop. The 34-year-old Nash retired because of concussion issues after 15 seasons. Jim Riley, Director of Marketing – Columbus Blue Jackets, wrote on LinkedIn, “From winning the “Rocket” Richard Trophy to helping the #CBJ to first ever NHL Playoff appearance – #61 Rick Nash has meant a lot to the Blue Jackets organization.”
Editor’s Note: Captain Nick Foligno was selected as the Jackets’ “Last Man In.” Voting ended Jan. 10. This is the first time the NHL has had a “Last Man In” vote.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Follow Mitch Stacy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mitchstacy