One of Kent Johnson’s Michigan teammates is joining him on the Columbus Blue Jackets. After the team inked the 2021 fifth-overall pick, Columbus announced they also signed the captain of the Michigan Wolverines, Nick Blankenburg. Blankenburg, 23, went undrafted and chose to sign with Columbus as a college free agent. His entry level contract is a one-year deal, lasting for the remainder of the 2021-22 season, and he is expected to join the team alongside Johnson on Monday.
Blankenburg is a veteran of four seasons at the University of Michigan, where he has collected 68 points in his 133-game career. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen referred to Blankenburg as “a talented, smart, really competitive player with great leadership qualities” and stated that the Blue Jackets organization is “thrilled to welcome him.”
While Blankenburg is a bit undersized, standing at five-foot-nine and 175 pounds, it’s not his physicality that has earned him an NHL contract. Blankenburg is a right-shot defenseman who flashed offensive upside in his most recent season as a Wolverine and could help the Blue Jackets as a puck-mover. It remains to be seen if Blankenburg has a true NHL future, but his signing today should afford him the opportunity to make his case to Columbus’ management team that he deserves to be in their future plans as they rebuild their squad.