Early in the offseason, word broke that 26-year-old defender Seth Jones had already informed the Columbus Blue Jackets that he does not intend to re-sign with them when his contract expires at the end of next season.
That report has led to a ton of rumors about Jones being traded this summer. It’s progressed to the point that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s mentioned on his podcast that he believes Jones will be moved out of Columbus before the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Rumors connecting Jones to the Colorado Avalanche started to swirl when Friedman told the Hockey Night in Canada audience that Jones would “love” to be traded to either Colorado or Dallas. The connection likely comes from the fact that Jones spent a lot of his childhood in Denver while his father, Popeye Jones, played for the Nuggets.
Jones’ to the Avalanche has left many fans — and Denver media members — speculating that his acquisition is the exact type of move this Avalanche team needs to make to take the next step.
The problem is that Seth Jones isn’t nearly as good as some believe.
He’s big, was drafted high and had a lot of success as a young defender. It’s the perfect combination to allow analysts to overlook his actual performance over the past few years.
It’s not just a down year either, his results have been getting steadily worse over since his peak a in 2017.
Playing under John Tortorella, Jones was a below-average defender over the last three seasons. Over that time, he has been bad at even strength — both offensively and defensively — and no better than average on the penalty kill. The best part of Jones’ game has been his contribution to the power play. The problem with that is the Avalanche already have a quarterback for their PP1, and Jones wouldn’t be unseating Cale Makar for the role. He might help the team’s second unit, but that’s not nearly enough of a reason to warrant the type of cost it would take to trade for Jones.
There has been speculation that Jones would cost as much as a first-round pick, an “NHL ready prospect” and a roster player. A package involving Tyson Jost, Conor Timmins and 27th overall in the draft has been speculated as the potential cost. There are even some who cover the Avalanche that have suggested they would trade 2019 fourth overall pick Bo Byram for Jones.
Both of those ideas are pretty ridiculous.
It may be the type of return Columbus would likely be asking for, but neither option is something Joe Sakic should even consider.
There is an argument to be made that Jones will improve his results if he is moved to a team that can “de-Torts” him. That potential exists, but it’s a risk — a big risk — and if you’re giving up a player like Byram or a package involving key pieces of the team’s future success, you can’t be doing it for a risk like Jones.
What further complicates things is the fact that Jones is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season, so any team trading for him would need to work on a contract extension — a scary prospect given that reports are saying Jones wants to be paid like a No. 1 defender despite absolutely not deserving to be paid as one.
If Sakic didn’t have to give up assets in a trade and could sign Jones to a Sam Girard-like $5 million cap hit, bringing in Jones could make sense. Unfortunately, it seems as though Jones is looking for a contract closer to the $8 million Jacob Trouba signed for in New York — not something a good team can afford to do.
Jones hasn’t been good for the past few seasons. He’s not the player many — both fans and media — believe he is. Could he get better in a more hospitable situation, playing for a different coach? Probably. But he still likely won’t be good enough to warrant paying him like a top defender. It’d be a huge risk, and you can’t take that risk if the cost is your most valuable trade capital on top of a new $8 million long-term contract.
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