The on-again, off-again Jon Blum hasn’t been seen in Nashville in a long while, like December 2011 long. The Predators’ 2007 first round pick has seen playing time in Nashville, but has yet to solidify his spot with the big club. Can he do that this season?
Last year Jon Blum had all the promise in the world. He was coming off a great rookie campaign were he put up eight points in 23 games for the Preds with a +8 rating. He even started in all of Nashville's playoff games during the 2010-2011 season. Then training camp came and it seemed like Blum was just going through the motions. This seemed to translate to his on ice play during the season as Blum only amassed seven points in a 33 game span and a poor rating of -14. The Predators eventually sent Blum down to the AHL, choosing the rookie Ryan Ellis over the California native.
Blum did not see any playoff action with the Predators this past season and generally looked poor in the 2011-12 AHL season.
There has been a lot of speculation about Blum's attitude, something I am not going to touch on here, but I will say he needs to be known less for his "AHL Problem" tweets and more for his play on the ice. I think his demotion last year has done a lot of good for Blum, as his play over the past few months with the Admirals is substantially better than it was last season. Blum has tallied 12 points in 34 games for the Admirals this season, and was a much-improved -3 compared to his -11 last season.
Trotz appears to have penciled Blum in as the seventh blueliner this year, as Ellis is expected to remain on a pairing with Hal Gill. Due to the condensed season, there are bound to be injuries and opportunities for Blum to get some playing time. When he does, he should be on the power play. Another possible outlook for Blum is he outplays either Klein, Ellis, Gill, or Hannan and takes over one of their spots some point during the season.
Blum has a long road to redemption in front of him. He will have plenty of hurdles to get over before he is a mainstay on the Preds blue line. Is he up for the challenge? His puck handling and skating are good but his attention to details and defensive instincts may not be there yet. This is a must-prove year for Blum, and I expect him to come out with everything he has got. If Jon Blum can be the player he was two years ago, there is going to be quite a logjam on the backend.