With the fresh faces permeating throughout the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup, it’s easy to forget that one of the highest paid players on the squad and their second-highest scorer over the past three seasons is veteran winger Scott Hartnell.
Hartnell, 34, has often been relegated to bottom-six duty over the past season and a half, becoming a complimentary piece to the rest of the offense instead of the fixture of the top-six he was before coach John Tortorella came around. But even though Hartnell’s averaging less than 13 minutes of ice time per outing, he made sure to show off that he’s still got enough magic left in his hands to work the front of the net on a power play to near perfection.
During the second period of the Blue Jackets’ overtime win over the Canucks on Sunday, Hartnell found himself posted up in front of Vancouver’s Ryan Miller, screening the netminder while Columbus worked the puck around the zone. Eventually, the puck wound up on Hartnell’s tape, and, seemingly with eyes in the back of his head, he made a dazzling no-look, between-the-legs feed to Brandon Saad. It might have been the easiest goal Saad will score all season:
There’s nothing Miller could have done to stop that, and that’s about as picture-perfect as Hartnell’s pass could have been.
Despite the fact he’s barely seeing the ice — he played 10:33 on Sunday — Hartnell is somehow managing to keep putting up points at a fairly good pace. His assist on Sunday was his fifth helped and sixth point in his past 10 games, and he hasn’t seen more than 15:15 in a single outing over that span.
What becomes of Hartnell down the road is hard to say with the Blue Jackets up against the cap, somewhat consistent rumors of Hartnell being on the block or a trade chip and an expansion draft looming, which Hartnell could be available for if he chooses to nix his no-movement clause. Sunday night, though, he showed off that even at 34, he’s still got the skill to chip in with some offense when given the chance.
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