As waiver pickups go, Ryan Jones was a beauty. In his two full seasons with the Oilers, Jones has scored 18 and 17 goals while providing the team with a physical presence and miles and miles of energy shifts. Ryan Jones, as they say, has a terrific motor–it won’t stop running! Now: what’s that worth?
Jones was drafted by Minnesota in 2004, but was dealt to Nashville shortly after turning pro. He made the Preds in the fall of 2008 in something of a surprise (he scored 3 points in 5 pre-season games), as the club had a rash of injuries to wingers at the beginning of that season (Steve Sullivan, Jed Ortmeyer) and Alexander Radulov decided to bolt Nashville quicker than Willie Nelson and the Outlaws.
Jones spent parts of two seasons with the Predators, and hit the waiver wire about three years ago:
Since then, Jones has played 170 games in an Oiler uniform, scored 36-23-59 and as mentioned above delivered all out effort and heads for the net whenever possible.
Last season, Jones enjoyed the finest year of his NHL career:
- 5×5 points per 60: 1.46 (tied for 7th among regular forwards)
- 5×4 points per 60: 5.40 (3rd among regular forwards)
- Qual Comp: 7th toughest faced among regular forwards
- Qual Team: tied for 8th best available teammates among regular forwards
- Corsi Rel: -2.9 (9th best among regular forwards)
- Zone Start: 44.6% (3rd toughest, 12th easiest among regular forwards)
- Zone Finish: 48.6% (9th best among regular forwards)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 137/12.4% (4th among F’s >100shots)
- Boxcars: 79, 17-16-33
- Plus Minus: -7 on a team that was -26
He performed well across the board: solid offense for his spot in the batting order, good Corsi, faced a tough zone start and scored 17 goals. That’s a guy who is going to get a raise.
This season, Jones missed training camp and the first several weeks of the season with an eye injury (puck struck him during a pick-up game). He’s back, but has been in only 2 games so far this season.
Jones situation is somewhat different than the Ladislav Smid contract we discussed earlier this week. Jones has had an injury, is approaching 30 (June 2014) and the Oilers have all kinds of options at his position.
Under contract for 2013-14 among Oilers wingers, followed by RFA/UFA this summer in bold:
- Taylor Hall, signed through 2020 (UFA)
- Jordan Eberle, signed through 2019 (UFA)
- Nail Yakupov, signed through 2015 (RFA)
- Ales Hemsky, signed through 2014 (UFA)
- Ryan Smyth, signed through 2014 (UFA)
- Ben Eager, signed through 2014 (UFA)
- Teemu Hartiakinen, signed through 2013 (RFA)
- Magnus Paajarvi, signed through 2013 (RFA)
- Ryan Jones, signed through 2013 (UFA)
- Lennart Petrell, signed through 2013 (UFA)
- Darcy Hordichuk, signed through 2013 (UFA)
The bottom 5 wingers (in bold) represent players Edmonton will need to make a decision on this summer. The club will not have waiver options on Paajarvi or Hartikainen in 2013-14, so the roster options are far less with this lineup should it stay intact.
The issue then becomes: can the Oilers carry Hartikainen, Paajarvi and Jones as their 7-8-9 wingers? Added to 4 centermen, they would represent (with Petrelland the 4C) the end of the roster types: a couple would be regulars and the rest would be spotted in and out of the lineup–black aces, as they used to be called.
Can the Oilers offer Ryan Jones a contract that reflects his two productive seasons without a regular top 9 role? Perhaps they unload Ben Eager, or even Ales Hemsky?
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Ryan Jones is one of the best waiver pickups in Oilers history–he certainly has more value today than he did upon arrival. I’m not sure how the Oilers will plan their roster moving forward, and Ryan Jones may end up playing in another NHL city in the fall.
Whatever the decision, this is no slam dunk, he has not made the logical transition (moving him down the line and inserting ready draft picks like Hartikainen and Paajarvi) an easy one.
That alone shows Ryan Jones is a success in Edmonton, courtesy talent, effort and desire. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out.