RYAN JONES: FINDING THE SWEET SPOT

Agent Wade Arnott and the Edmonton Oilers continue to talk about a new contract for Ryan Jones. The bottom line, as always, will be, well, the bottom line — how much and for how many years?

Jones, 26, plucked off the waiver wire from Nashville in March 2010, has earned a new deal with the Oilers. At least it looks that way from where I sit. He becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Likewise, given how the roster looks like it will shape up over the next couple of years, the versatile Jones looks like a fit because of his ability to slide up and down the depth chart, filling in here and there.

Add it up, and the question is what Arnott and Jones will be looking for on top of the $975,000 he made this season to sign here with UFA status pending and how much the Oilers should pay.

If Arnott, Jones and the Oilers can find that sweet spot, the player will get paid fair market value and the team will secure the services of a useful player at a reasonable price. Sounds simple enough.

We know it doesn’t always work that way.

PRICE POINT

Jones, who’ll turn 27 June 14, has been a handy player to have around since being claimed from Music City, providing enough grit to be a fit on Tom Renney’s third and fourth lines and a enough offensive prowess — he has scored 18 goals and 25 points — to slip into the top-six when needed.

His surprising knack around the net aside, Jones’ calling card is that he provides options. He kills penalties. He grinds. He darts around the ice and runs into people. He falls down a lot. He’s an energy guy.

In short, Jones has done everything he and Arnott could have hoped with UFA status pending. So, does Jones get greedy like Curtis Glencross did a couple years ago? Does Jones ask to be paid like a 20-goal scorer over the next two or three seasons and get told to take a hike?

Or, does he play it smart with GM Steve Tambellini and make a deal that could set him quite nicely for the rest of his life, at least by working man’s standards? Does he make Edmonton his home and still have a chance to sign an even better deal before he’s 30, assuming his ascent this season isn’t a blip on the career radar screen?

We’ll find out soon enough.

THE DOTTED LINE

I know people are going to jump on the Glencross reference because he’s had a good season in Calgary and will likely make some pretty good bank because of it.

Glencross is now worth the kind of money he was asking the Oilers for — after being a nice fit on the fourth line, Glencross and his agent wanted $1.8 million a season — before settling on way less in Cowtown. He’ll get his money now. The Oilers would have been foolish to pay it then.

As for Jones, if he wants to stay, and if the Oilers are going to make a deal that makes sense for them, he is likely going to have to wait one more contract to make "real" money, just like Glencross did.

"Some people just assume that you’re going to test free agency when that’s not the case," Jones said this morning. "Other people assume 100 per cent that you’re going to stay.

"It’s one of those things that’s got to work out best for both parties. A lot of the time it does. Sometimes, it doesn’t. That’s kind of the boat that we’re in."

GETTING PAID

"I’m their property until July 1," Jones said when asked if he has a timeline for getting a new deal done. "Sooner is less stressful, but there’s no set date."

Could Jones find a team that would be willing to pay him, say, $4.5 million over the next three seasons? Probably. Should the Oilers pay him that much? I don’t think so. If I was Tambellini, I’d be looking to come in at about $2.6 million for two years. Say, $1.2 million and $1.4 million.

I’m talking about a difference of $200,000 a season and a year in term, which isn’t much in the NHL world, but it’s still a stack of dough in the real world. Does Jones, who had one foot out the NHL door when he was on waivers, still relate to that? Or, does he leave a situation he likes, and one that could be good for him, to get paid now?

"It’s always dependant on the market," Jones said. "There’s no real comparables when you go into free agency. It just matters what teams want.

"I’d like to think I’ve played myself into a position where I’d be in demand, but that might not be the case. I continue to say that I’ve got a good spot here. I’ve worked an identity out with the Oilers and, hopefully, we can get something done."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • FastOil

    @ OB1
    We don’t seem to agree on much do we? We are consistently not looking. There are players every year, Tambelowe just doesn’t sign them, or can’t, which is worse. GM’s need to be persuasive negotiators to be good. It their job.

    Bottom 6 forwards aren’t the hard ones to get.

    @jeanshorts
    Are you referring to Jones? ‘Cause that description is not him. He is not a good two way player, bleeds chances like crazy.

    He isn’t an effective hitter, likes to slam the boards to look like he’s hitting, but that doesn’t affect the opponent. Power forwards play the body and drive the net.

    He has an energetic looking style, but he doesn’t get the work done. His 18 goals (in a contract year) will go down if he’s forced to play a complete game.

    I think his play is self serving, not team serving, and is a bad example for a young team. If he was a team player he would muck a lot more, stand up for his small friends, and play defense. Yes he’s a funny nice guy but I want team first players that are effeective in their roles.

    Goal suck isn’t the role of a 3rd or 4th line winger. The reason he was on waivers is that he is ineffective overall, and the 30th place team picked him up, he played flashy bad hockey in general and many fans love him.

    This is why we are 30th, twice. Too many ineffective players that we keep.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I wouldn’t do more than 2 years for Jones. He earned another year, and if he delivers, you have him for another on top of that. If he doesn’t deliver, then you can possibly trade him since there is only one more year on the contract, and you aren’t handicapped by a contract that is too long.

  • Blue Blooded

    I just really hope they work something out… I called Jones as my “star” before the season started, predicting a “Glencross-like season”. Jones has delivered and its been a blast cheering him on. Let’s hope we see him in the blue and orange next year!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Will the Flames be able to resign Glenncross this summer? I think not. They will be over the cap now that Langkow is back on the payroll.Would the Oilers consider Glenncross? They should in my opinion. Jones? 1.4X 2 years. Sounds reasonable and it sounds fair. Hope he thinks so too.

  • Thanks for the update Mr. Bronte.
    Personally, just my opine, but if it comes down to a line in the sand again over one more year or 100K more, like the Smytty deal, I say just give it to the boy. He’s a good boy. Good sense of humour, likeable as far as I can tell, good fit, grit, a few goals, and a Smytty mullet. Those are all things we need. I don’t think we are in a boat to turn our noses up at a decent player. imo.
    Glencross money won’t kill me. 3 yrs, 1.4 per, I’d do it.

  • I think the league will take notice of that visual of Mac laying it on a turtler. Bring him back whilst we’re at it. 500K to sit in the pressbox, worth it. I think he scares people. They won’t try much crap after that. We’ve finally got a few mid-weights in Wreck’em, Vandy, Jacques, Jones. A couple more, and the nuke, its unbeatable.
    R-e-s-p-e-c-t. That’s what Mac Daddy means to me.

    • Spending $550,000 to keep MacIntyre on this roster next season makes some sense with all the young players here and on the way, but beyond 2011-12, I’m not so sure. It’s got to be one year at a time for MacIntyre.

      He’s cheap. He scares the crap out of just about everybody and there is some worth in that — for now.

  • FastOil

    @ OB1 –
    I don’t know if that’s spin seeing as his stats are poor. He doesn’t play D which is what a bottom 6 needs to be good at. Any points are a bonus.

    Agreed we need less JFJ’s, Reddox’s, but I would include any player that can’t play defense or score much.

    Jones 25 pts isn’t exactly great given his increasing quality of linemates as the Oiler world fell apart, again.

    A lot of fans like him because of his style, but I want players that produce what their role requires for a change. That’s what wins hockey games.

    He is better than JFJ Struds and Mac, but Stortini actually had better numbers other than points. But don’t worry, he will be back at 1.2-1.4 because of the goals. And he’ll play a big role in another lottery season.