Introducing Cam Atkinson: The hottest scorer on the NHL's hottest team
You've heard it by now: The Columbus Blue Jackets are red-hot.
A perennial laughing stock, Columbus has drastically changed the narrative this season, currently riding a nine-game winning streak to go with the NHL's best winning percentage (.759).
So, what's changed?
Well, a bounce-back season from Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky and a refined players-first approach from head coach John Tortorella, for starters, but it's the rarely mentioned Cam Atkinson who's propelling one of the NHL's most potent attacks.
In 29 games this season, Atkinson leads Columbus with 31 points, four clear of Alexander Wennberg. Atkinson's 12 goals and 19 assists tie him with Pittsburgh's Phil Kessel for ninth league-wide, trailing the usual suspects of elite NHL point production.
What's more, Atkinson is the only player in the top 10 other than Sidney Crosby who hasn't reached the 30-game mark yet. Averaging 1.07 points per game this season, the 27-year-old is tied with for fifth with Nikita Kucherov in that respect, and trails only Vladimir Tarasenko, Steven Stamkos, Connor McDavid, and Crosby.
Last season, on the 27th-place Blue Jackets, Atkinson shared the team lead in points with Brandon Saad at 53 - a career high. During Columbus' nine-game tear, Atkinson has notched 11 points, putting him easily on pace to establish a new personal best.
Who knows when - or if - the Blue Jackets will cool off, but for the time being, any praise is well deserved.