One-off. Flash in the pan. Lucky. No way he can do it again. The sun shines on every dog’s ass once in awhile. Ryan Jones of the Edmonton Oilers has heard it all when it comes to his 2010-11 season.
After being plucked from the Nashville Predators by the Oilers via the waiver wire in March 2010, Jones responded by scoring 18 goals and finishing with 25 points — both representing single-season career highs — in 81 games with the Oilers last season.
That was good enough to land the rambunctious winger a new two-year contract worth $3 million from GM Steve Tambellini this summer, a tidy raise over the $975,000 the former Miami University Redhawk earned a year ago.
What it hasn’t done is quiet the insistence by some, those casting one wary eye at Jones and another at Edmonton’s depth chart as training camp approaches, that he can replicate those numbers, be it because of a reduced role or the fact that, well, last season was a fluke.
"I heard a lot of that, to be honest," Jones said. "There are a lot of people who question when a guy like myself has a good year, but that’s just motivation. They call it bulletin board material."
BY THE NUMBERS
Prior to last season, Jones had never hit double-digits in goals in the NHL, scoring seven in 2008-09 with Nashville and eight in 2009-10 with the Predators and Oilers. Then again, he’d never logged a full season, playing 46 games in 2008-09 and 49 the following season.
His per-game ice time averages with Nashville were 11:26 (2008-09) and 10:43 (2009-10). His shooting percentages were 11.1 and 13.2, respectively. In eight games with Edmonton to end 2009-10, Jones scored one goal, averaged 10:21 of ice time and had an 11.1 shooting percentage.
Last season, Jones played up and down the line-up for Tom Renney, averaging 13:50 in playing time. His shooting percentage was 14.3.
While that represented the best percentage of his career, it’s not like everything Jones shot bounced off somebody’s backside and into the net. Dustin Penner led the team at 15.3. Jones, J.F. Jacques and Teemu Hartikainen finished at 14.3. Ales Hemsky was 14.0.
"When you go to the net and you’re banging home goals that are two feet away, you shooting percentage is going to be high," Jones said.
"I don’t take a lot of perimeter shots because I’m a guy who likes to get rid of the puck. I let the defence and my linemates take the shots and I drive to the net hard."
GO WITH THE FLOW
Versatility, the ability to move relatively seamlessly from the third or fourth line up to the second in a pinch, has been a long suit for Jones so far. It’ll have to be again.
He’s in deep behind Hemsky Jordan Eberle and, probably, Linus Omark on right wing. On the left side, Taylor Hall, Ryan Smyth, Magnus Paajarvi and Ben Eager are vying for playing time.
"Tom is the kind of guy who rewards you for the effort you put in," Jones said of Renney. "If I go out there and I work hard and I continue to play well, I think he will reward me.
"With a line-up this deep, it’s a matter of finding your role and playing it. I might have a little bit of a different role this year. I want to be a little bit more reliable in the defensive zone. More of the same — just work my tail off every chance I get."
I’m guessing a lot of fans expect Jones to fall off his 18 goals of last season. That’s probably the safe bet. Then again, if Jones can coax the same amount of ice time out of Renney and the Oilers can score more goals — could they actually score less? — is 16-18 goals too much to expect again?
"I think I still have something to give," Jones said. "I think I can still grow as a player. I know the type of player I want to be.
"I want to be a power-forward, a responsible power-forward. Whoever the coaches think I can complement best by playing the game I can play, that’s who I want to play with."
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.