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.
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."
"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.