The Jones Bullet Dodged

The Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue jackets consummated
a trade to get Ryan Johansen by sending Seth Jones the other way. And, in doing
so, the Blue Jackets helped the Oilers avoid losing a trade handedly.

The table for the deal was set the moment the Blue Jackets
sided with controversial head coach John Tortorella over their franchise centre.
Johansen was allowed to be made a healthy scratch, and the heart condition that
prevented him from starting the year at peak conditioning was not considered
much of an excuse by Torts, it seems.

The trade is a hockey deal through and through, but one that
doesn’t happen if the Jackets don’t feel the need to move on from Johansen. The
Blue Jackets lost this deal in the present and are banking on potential to even
out the deal down the road. The entire trade is predicated on Columbus being
perfectly fine shipping away a 1C for maybe a second pairing defender.

Let’s assume that the Oilers were also a potential trading
partner with the Predators. The team is not moving McDavid or Draisaitl. That
leaves Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the Johansen comparable moving the other way for Jones in this hypothetical scenario. That
is simply not a good deal for the Edmonton Oilers.

Seth Jones was slated as a potential first overall in his draft year. He fell all the way down to fouth and the
Predators had no choice but to take him even though they didn’t need
defensemen. The problem is that things haven’t taken off for Jones the way they
were supposed to. Unless he really breaks loose in Columbus his career high
will be the 27 points he produced last year. This was a player who was supposed
to bring offence from the blue line and that isn’t happening yet in his third
NHL season.

If we look at Jones’ usage with the Predators it might be easy
to conclude, based on his TOI/G, that Jones is a second pairing defender
at 21 years of age. That’s nothing to sneeze at, even for a former fourth
overall pick.

The problem is that if we look a little bit closer we
see that isn’t actually the case with Jones. He is fourth in TOI/G,
just eight seconds fewer per match than Ryan Ellis. That might make one believe he
and Ellis are partners on the second pairing, but that would also be incorrect.
At even strength, Jones has played 460 of his 570 5v5 minutes with Barrett
Jackman on the third pairing. The extra minutes that make up his
elevated TOI/G come from playing almost 2:30 a night on the PP.

Seth Jones is currently a third pairing defenceman
who was getting a serious push on the man-advantage. In addition, the
Jackman-Jones pairing was given a significantly easier starting position as
often as was possible. The duo lead the Predators’ blueline in offensive zone
starts. Jones received 37.2% OZ Starts and Ellis received the next highest all
the way down to 32.7%. And, let’s keep in mind, even with that big offensive
push the points are not coming for Seth Jones.

Meanwhile, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is on pace for another season
near his career high of 56 points, and pundits believe he has more offence
to give. He plays more per game than either Seth Jones or Ryan Johansen. He’s
also has a head coach that believes in him and defends him from misguided
criticism from the media as compared to Johansen who was thrown directly under
the bus by his coach.

Yes, I think the Oilers could have been in on Seth Jones,
but it would have apparently cost the team RNH. Unlike the Blue Jackets, the
Edmonton Oilers are probably not fine with the idea of trading their most used
centreman for a third pairing defender who isn’t scoring despite getting
lots of sugar time.

Seth Jones is still young enough to develop into the player
he was supposed to be on draft day – 21 years old is still infancy for NHL
rearguards. Maybe, just maybe, in a few years this deal will balance out, but that’s
no sure thing. Have we seen anything from Seth Jones that suggests he’s
bubbling under, ready to break out? The team with the best eye for blueliners
in the NHL had him on their bottom pairing, and sheltered in the offensive zone.
The Oilers can’t afford to give up talented players for a handful of “maybes”
and some “just mights.”

Trading the Nuge for Jones would have been a loss for the
Oilers no different than it has been a loss for the Blue Jackets. For that
reason I’m thankful for John Tortorella and the willingness Columbus found to
make a deal they could surely lose in both the short and long term. It saves
the Oilers from making that exact same mistake.

  • As always the truth shall set us free. The very fact fans wanted to trade Nuge for Jones demonstrates the uneducated fickle nature of this group. Like the article says, Jones is impressive, and could easily one day be a top defender, but he’s not now.

    Nuge, on the other hand, is a number one centre at 22. Those guys don’t come from no where. You have to draft those guys.

    “Oh but now we have McDavid and Draisaitl.”

    Ya, but look what happens when injuries hit. Thank goodness Draisaitl decided over the summer he didn’t want to go back down, otherwise we’d be watching Hall play center again.

    Plus, everyone is clamoring for that top line right shot D man, or at least another top 4 right shot guy, good news… Byfuglin, Yannick Weber, and Keith Yandle are so far all hitting free agency this summer. Not to mention the potential Hamonic wanting a trade.

  • smith

    I don’t think it’s fair to say Jones is a third pairing D. Sure he is with the stats provided but Nashville has the priveledge of Shea weber and Roman josi. They can shelter their young d and let them grow and learn with sheltered minutes and one sided offensive zone starts. Like a good team should. Jones can be a top four d on the oilers easily now. And likely a top pairing in the future

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    A year ago the Oilers top center was RNH. Now the Oilers have McDavid as #1 and Drai as No. 2.

    Oilers cannot win without proper defense.

    It seems that RNH is the one to trade for defense help.

    A center is most valuable as trade material. I like RNH but it has to get done.

    Project ahead and Oilers will be unable to keep 3 centers under the cap situation anyway.

    #1 center – McDavid at 8 to 10M
    #2 center – Drai at 5 to 7M
    #3 center – RHN at 6M

  • Fuzzy

    The one problem i have with any nuge for jones trade is the oilers need the player seth jones COULD be in about 2-3 years time, not the player he currently is. As many have pointed out, the underlying numbers do not indicate he is ready to be the number 1-2 defenseman that the Oilers need right now.

    As much as McDavid and Drai are the likely top 2 C, they are both under 20 and don’t have the experience handling 1C duties that nuge has done since he was drafted. Right now Nuge is more valuable to the oilers in the here and now than jones would be. 2-3 years from now i absolutely agree that it could be different, but this isn’t a trade that instantly makes the oilers better because we are robbing peter to pay paul. We get an upgrade at D, but jones would be taking on way more responsibility than he ever has or has shown capability to do, as would McDavid and Drai… that doesn’t lead to near term success.

    Nuge can always be traded (if that’s the best play) further on down the road if need be. Just because they didn’t get Jones now, doesn’t mean they can’t get a similar player later….

    Oh and how about offer-sheeting jones this offseason for nothing but picks and money?

  • Van isl Oiler

    Hopkins is still our best center at this stage , as Conner and Draisaitl are still rookies in comparison . We will see next year who might be the best .

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    I get what you’re saying, but I do think your assessment of him being 5/6 guy is wrong in that his abilites aren’t that bad. He plays bottom pair not because that’s where he should be, but because NSH probably wanted him playing on the right side. There’s no way he would’ve supplanted either of Weber or Ellis who are both RS dmen playing on the right side. Thus, Jones was left with bottom pair.

    TL;DR: Jones isn’t a bottom pair d-man so much as he’s a victim of circumstance.

    I may be wrong, but that’s my general impression.

  • Danglishish

    I think the debate over whether Chia missed an opportunity here will ultimately boil down to the following question:

    Which would you choose:

    Nuge for Jones, or

    Eberle for Hamonic?

    I would prefer the Hamonic deal, and if the noise coming out of NY is accurate, we could expect to see this happen on deadline day. If it does, will you still think Chia missed an opportunity here with Jones?

      • Danglishish

        Really?

        Because NY media reported yesterday that Snow is going to move Hamonic on deadline day to Edm for Eberle. The story being that Snow turned down Ebs for Hamonic when the leak went out, hoping another dman would come up, but is now planning to move him to Oil for Ebs on trade deadline day because no other teams are biting and he wants to put this behind him.

        But hey, I’m sure your opinion here in Edmonton about a NY team is much more reliable then the sports media in NY.

          • Danglishish

            LOL, ummm, the irony of your statement is glaring.

            Ever heard of leaks? As in the same leaks that led to the news that Hamonic wanted a trade in the first place???! Remember that? Hahahahahaha…. You can’t write this stuff – too funny 🙂

  • bradleypi

    I wouldn’t trade Nuge now. And I wouldn’t trade Nuge for Jones, just like I wouldn’t trade Nuge for Johansen but you are really under selling Jones in my opinion. Nashville lost that trade by a slight margin.

  • DoubleDIon

    Seriously? You think a RNH for Jones swap favors the Preds? This is a fan base where even the bloggers don’t realize you build from the net out. Yes, Jones plays 2nd pairing minutes. No shame in that when it’s Josi and Weber ahead of you.

    The Oilers will forever be a bottom feeder until they address the blueline. Chiarelli understands this, even if the fans/bloggers don’t. If Nashville would have done a RNH for Jones swap Chiarelli would have been all over it. The Oilers are full of bottom pairing defensemen and young guys who are trying to develop with no top end defensemen on the roster to pattern their game after.

    Nurse, Klefbom and Laleggia could all be good players, but you need someone to take the hard minutes or their development is hampered. Nashville develops Jones the right way and Henderson thinks this is a mark against him? Right, because the Oilers model of throwing young guys in the deep end has been soooo successful.

  • smith

    Nobody is saying the Oilers did not try and get Jones. What I am saying is that the Oilers failed to get Jones, Hamilton, Myers, Bogosian, Leddy, Boychuk etc…

    For a team with the worst d-core in the NHL that is absolutely pathetic when the Oilers have hi-end assets desirable by other teams.

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    At the moment Johansen is a # 1 C Jones has been a 3rd pairing with Nashville and most likely a 2nd pairing with most teams. So for the moment Nashville won the trade.

    Seth Jones has 1 goal in 40 games playing 3rd pairing and playing the power play 2nd unit.

    • cberg

      3rd most power play minutes on Nashville

      3rd pairing D-man getting sheltered minutes

      On the ice for 1/3 of the game

      1 goal in 40 games is not a good total for a potential 1st pairing D man.

      • cberg

        3rd pairing defenders tend to play with bottom six forwards. Nashville has scoring issues at the top of their roster. How bad is the bottom when it comes to offense?

        Also, last year on the PP Jones outscored Weber, Josi, Ellis and Ekholm in powerplay points per 60 minutes played. Again, while playing on the second unit not the first.

        So, be careful limiting your scope of analysis to 40 games. There is a bigger picture there.

  • moosewacker

    Funny, I thought this was a good trade for both teams and there is risk involved on both sides.

    Who knows if P.C. did not have Nuge on the table for Seth Jones ? Could be that he did, and with Nuge and Johansen being pretty comparable in talent, that Nashville went with size.

    I also find funny those who say Jones has a ceiling of a 3-4 Dman. Nashville has this crazy habit of developing their defensemen slowly and not throwing them into the fire too soon. Rarely are #1 Dmen traded, but this guy has as much potential to be one as anyone out there.

  • Fuzzy

    I agree with Matt on this. CBJ assumes all of the risk in this deal given the spot in the lineup that Seth Jones has played for his entire, young, NHL career.

    If the Oilers would’ve traded RNH for SJ. It would have been the Oilers assuming all the risk. RNH is a known commodity. RNH plays effective minutes against top lines and still puts up respectable numbers. You don’t trade that for someone you HOPE can play in your top 2D. It would’ve been poor asset management, which we’ve all seen too much of over the years….we dodged a bullet.

  • McChickenpi

    @Cowbell_Feva

    Couldn’t agree more. He has a very high chance to be a top pairing, RH defenseman and most likely All-Star caliber player for the next 15 years.
    I swear he is the exact player ON has been begging for. Did you think these types of players are had for Schultz, Yak & a 4th?

    The back and forth confusion on this site never fails to astound me.

    Nuge is a great hockey player and he will continue to be; but at 6 M a year for the next 5 years as our 3C? Yes, he is not a true 3C on our team but you have to pull that trigger regardless. You can fill a tough minutes, defensive centre hole much easier than a top pairing RHD.

    Maybe we could have grabbed Richards to fill in at 4C for now and had Jones on our blue line. I think that makes us instantly better and much better in the long term. Fact of the matter is, we can not afford McDavid, Drai and Nuge, so he has to get moved eventually and what better return than a very good, RHD that can grow with this team?

    RNH +++ for Jones IMO.

  • oildawg99

    Why is it my fellow Oiler fans always fall in love with the next best thing? Here we have a real bona-fide two way centre in Nuge that we developed and people want to trade him away for an unknown. I for one am glad Chia is showing some restraint.

    What type of message does this send to the team if you start running Letestu-Lander- ? up the middle for the next few games? What kind of pressure would this put on a returning Mcdavid? What happens if Leo or Mcd get hurt again? Who is going o start eating up those tough minutes against the top line centre in the western conference?

    I think these are all valid questions and if we trade Nuge now we would be telling a team with Hall, McD ETC to just wait for next year or maybe the year after. I don’t know if thats a good message even if as a fan you feel they don’t have much of a shot right now. I think this shows the team that they have a management team that believes in them.

    If the right trade for a man comes up that will improve this team immediately I would expect Chia to pull the trigger. This one would not, it would be another” give it time” trade.

    Here is hoping the Nuge and the oil give em hell in 2016.

    • who

      My guess is Chia offered RNH straight up for Jones and was turned down so I am willing to cut him some slack. Love RNH but think it would have been a good trade for Edmonton. Essentially you are talking about trading a current #2 center for a current 2nd pairing dman. Both players have the potential to be number 1’s in 2 years. Dealing from a position of strength to fill a position of need. For those of you who are worried about losing center ice depth this year in case of injury I say so what. The best thing this team could do for the rest of the year is tank and get a top three pick again. Unless you think they are a cup contender which is quite a stretch. I know most oiler fans don’t want to hear the same old song and dance but it is what it is. If the team could have stayed healthy we may be having a different conversation this year but given the first half results it will be a struggle to make the playoffs and the oilers are just not ready to compete for a cup. Might be a good break in the long term as a high pick would strengthen the talent pool and the team will be in a better position to make the playoffs and perhaps go on a bit of a run next year. I don’t see them making any significant upgrades for d men this year and maybe not even in the offseason so will have to give the current young guys a little more time.