RYAN JONES: BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL

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.

  • Pizzy

    Its been a while since the Oilers have had this much depth up front! Jones will be alright… Out of all the forwards they have, he is pretty unique and will find his spot.

  • Bucknuck

    Ryan Jones seems to be very proud to be an Oiler and there is no question that his effort is there every night. He’s young enough to still get better, and fun to watch and also to listen to (I follow the guy on twitter).

    I wonder how much Ryan Smyth might be able mentor him. They both have the hair, and they both play a gritty game, and they’re both named Ryan. He’s only going to get better I would think (hope).

  • positivebrontefan

    Ther appears to be alot of Ryans trying to make the team this year. Four by my estimation. I hope they all have an impact, it would bode well for the team for all of them each in their own roles to have a good season.
    What strikes me is how different all of our Ryan’s are…

  • Pizzy

    I’ve always loved your articles like this Robin. I remember reading your stuff in the Edmonton Journal when I was first getting into hockey in the 90s… I love to get to know the players a bit more… it is fun to get to know them as people and not just as a statistic in a box score… it is easy to forget the human side of the game sometimes…

    • positivebrontefan

      Do i sense an experiment coming on.

      Jones will be fine, maybe not as many goals but I can see him in the 20 point range next season and I don’t think that its too much to ask either. Eager has more talent with the puck then I think people give him credit for and I believe that will only help Jones and the team. Eager just needs to make sure his head stays in the game and he doesn’t get all crazy. Unless we are already down by 8 goals in a game then by all means piss them off as much as you want.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Your initial response was a classic cableguy, even i had to give you props for that.

            Ryan Jones. Things are still so far out of whack here lineup wise, we could see Jones with the better part of 25 goals this season. If injuries allow Jones into the top 6 for a number of weeks, with the top 6 being better than last season, watch him go. Injuries will again be a factor this season and i think we’ll see Jonesy finish with 24 goals. Good thing he’s signed for 2 yrs.

    • Mason Storm

      Red.It turns into a Calgary Flame. Put that in your smurf and smurf it. On a side note> I took my 8 year old son to go see The Smurfs.3/5 kernels. Fun movie.

  • the positives.

    He has “good flow”
    he hunts moose
    he bangs a bit
    he yaps a bit
    he seems to be around the “action”

    the negs. (IMO)

    takes dumb penalties…. cause… well… hes kinda dumb
    he whines to the refs when he doesnt get the call and takes himself out of the play.
    Dude your a grunt….. realize that grunts dont get the calls… prima donnas do.

  • If Ryan Jones scores less than 16 goals this season the entire world economy will collapse under the weight of his contract, the sun will burn out and people will be forced to live out the rest of their days underground, surviring off the flesh of their own friends and family.

    Signed: Constantly Pessimistic Oiler Fans.

  • Mason Storm

    I was in Calgary to watch the Flames beat the Oilers 1-0 in an exhibition game last year. In that game (in my mind) Jones firmly established himself as a fixture on last year’s team. I would not count him out, and I bet he will pot at least 12 if he plays 78 or more games (I am thinking it will be anywhere from 15-20 goals actually). Time will tell, lets get the season going already!!!???&*%$#@

    Be aware that the Oilers prospects game vs Canucks will be shown on Sportsnet on Sunday night @ 8:30 pm. Woo Hoo hockey hockey hockey

  • Wax Man Riley

    If Ryan Jones scores less than 16 goals this season the entire world economy will collapse under the weight of his contract, the sun will burn out and people will be forced to live out the rest of their days underground, surviring off the flesh of their own friends and family.

    Signed: Constantly Pessimistic Oiler Fans.

    Fewer than 16 goals.

    Signed: Pedantic Constantly Pessimistic (And Consistently Correct) Oiler Fans

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      Honestly, the scoring chance numbers match up with Robin is saying.

      He says he’s average defensively and needs improvement. Your scoring chances against show him as middle of the pack on the team (8th out of 15 regulars).

      What’s really significant in your stats is the scoring chances for with Jones on the ice. He’s ranked second last (14th out of 15). The fact that he scored a lot of goals with such low scoring chances for means either A. It’s a fluke or B. He scores a lot with not many chances.

      Robin’s article is suggesting B because of high shooting percentages throughout his career…the scoring chances you bring up don’t really counter Robin’s answer, they’re more or less just repeating the question.

      • As you suggest, some advanced stats provide context to what we see. They can be useful that way.

        Too often, though, people throw them out as a revelation — “Look, I bet you didn’t know this.” More often than not, we already did know — without attaching specific numbers to it — because we’ve seen it.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Brule, JDD, Souray, Khabibulin… these were all situations where the numbers told a completely different story than what people were seeing.

          I think we’ll be adding Jones to this list as well, unless he (and his linemates) can somehow switch the direction the puck usually travels when they are on the ice.

    • He’s a keeper, as long as you aren’t expecting more offence out of him and have him slotted as mostly a third-line player. He also has to improve defensively, as he mentioned.

      The way I see it, Jones should be be good for 15 goals a season, assuming he gets about the same ice time as he did last year. I wouldn’t be counting on him becoming a 20-goal guy.

    • book¡e

      Give me an entry level contract and I will play hard and work my ass off as well.

      Of course, then that pesky talent thing comes into play…

      Who cares if he worked hard? What does he accomplish on the ice is what matters! and of course if he is ‘good in the room’.

      • Powder

        “Who cares if he worked hard? What does he accomplish on the ice is what matters! and of course if he is ‘good in the room’.”

        Are you serious?

        Well…he scored 18 goals on the ice, he worked his ass off every shift on the ice, he wore the Oiler jersey with pride on the ice and brought good energy every time he was…wait for it…on the ice.

        Sure he needs to work on things, but he knows that and is working on them, besides, what do you expect for 1.5 per season?

        Jones is exactly what this team needs more of IMHO…raw energy, a good attitude and a passion for the game.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Sweet Jesus did I read the quote right “with the depth of our roster, my role may change”???

    Jones is not playing on the 77/78 Canadiens, the 81/82 Islanders or the 87 Oilers. He is playing for a 30th place team(twice) where ALL of the scorers went down with 15 games to play. Expect he will score 10-12 goals with the worst possible advanced stats known to mankind. Which, in Edmonton, gets you $1.5 m per season. The last sentence is actually mind numbingly depressing

    Robin

    Suggest you set up and host a lunch/afternoon session with some of advanced stats guys. I think their work is a very useful tool in helping to assess players. I genuinely think it would add to your analysis of the Oil and the NHL. I also think you would enjoy the “other”perspective

    We are 1 Whitney injury away from another bad year!!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Haven’t you guys learned how anal Brownlee is about fisting yet?

    Wait…

    Ahem, Ryan Jones has the work ethic, and I really want to see him succeed on this team, but the incoming depth at forward is making this less and less of a possibility. He’s also grossly overpaid, regardless of last year. I certainly think he deserved a raise, but not THAT much.

  • paul wodehouse

    …loved Mr.Jones last year, especially after half the team went down with injury after injury …he instills a confidence for me that if those numbers of injuries ever happen again he’ll be there to take up the slack and be just fine …only thing is those injuries need to come fast and furious in week three of the season so he can get 20+…i’m of the mind to say he won’t get even close to the ice time he got last year and finish with less than 10 and ON’ll be moaning and bitching about how overpaid the slug is…be very afraid of how these fans will turn on you Mr.Jones, they’re a hardass bunch to please…just ask Shawn Horcoff

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    I don’t blame Ryan Jones for scoring chances against caused by Colin Fraser, Kurtis Foster, Jim Vandermeer and others.

    That said, he’s a marginal player and my main concern is he doesn’t hold back Hartikainen, who goes to the net even harder than Jones does, based on what we saw of Harsky last year.

    Still OK with the Oilers have Jones signed up, though, as NHL teams need depth, given number of injuries that occur.

    • Little Buttcheeks

      Versatility makes Jones an OK bet for 2 more years t $1.5 M in my books and he fits in the bottom six. The more binding logjam is with all the smaller, similar skilled guys who fit on the top 2 lines.

      Somebody needs to be moved out of that group for something that’s needed — like a top-four D-man, and you’re not going to get one of those for your leftovers from the third and fourth lines.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Good job on the Go with the Flow subtitle.

    The day that Jones plays without a chip on his shoulder is the day that he is done in the NHL. He played in the bottom half of the lineup for most of last season when he got off to a good start so I think a 15 goal, 25 point season is possible.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Robin

    I expect that if you met with them (I am not one of them) the numbers guys would be able to convince you as to their relative merit. Bill James was looked at as a heretic in baseball 25 years ago. Today he is absolutely mainstream. I expect advanced statistical analysis in hockey will follow the same path. Stats we currently use will be referred to less, if at all; 5-10-15 year out

    Still an element of subjectivity but they have some great statistical tools

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Jones is a breathtakingly mediocre player. And unlike Srtaples I expect that Fraser, Foster et all complain that they are forced to play with Jones. There are no players on thr Oiler roster whose #’s improve playing with Jones.

    But he does appear to work hard though too bad it is not very efficient