The Blackhawks were slated to pick at #12 overall in the draft when everyone woke up Friday, July 23rd. Then there was a flurry of activity, and Chicago went all-in on a new defenseman. There were rumours it was going to happen, then it did, and everyone was unhappy.
At this point, Chicago Blackhawks’ General Manager Stan Bowman is probably unhappy as well. People aren’t likely to rush up thinking he’s a genius for this trade. Regardless, it was a deal that probably had to be made, and Seth Jones is now a Blackhawk.
There are a lot of words being shared right now among fans and talking heads that know stuff about hockey. Undoubtedly, some of it will be true, and some of it will be retweeted for years to show how wrong those initial predictions were. I’d like to think that proclaiming Chicago’s acquisition of Jones a bust will fall under that latter category. (Crossing my fingers he’s amazing)
No one knows if he had a bad year last year, or if he’s really just not the player everyone thought he was going to be. People have loudly described this trade to be a disaster. Dom Luszczyszyn at The Atheltic tweeted out this chart…
and then offered a follow-up analysis in a tweet-sized nugget
Is this accurate? Maybe. Does this chart reflect Jones or the team around him? Could Dom’s projection be correct? Sure, why not? It’s also a projection, and there are too many variables to say that Jones’ future as a player will closely correspond to Dom’s chart. There’s a lot to unpack here, but this deal had to happen for Chicago for several reasons.
First, until Chicago acquired Jones, the team did not have a top-pairing defenseman. Worse, no one was sure if the Blackhawks even had a player in the system that could fill that role, and Adam Boqvist whom Chicago traded to Columbus in exchange for Jones, was a part of that conversation. Jones fills a need that Chicago had, and likely wasn’t going to be able to fill outside of overpaying a free agent, such as Dougie Hamilton.
Second, people have been on the fence about Boqvist for the last couple of years. Yes, we all know he’s young (20), but the offensive dynamo he was supposed to be never really presented himself. Boqvist was described as a player the team could build around, but it wasn’t really clear that he was actually going to develop into someone of that calibre. After the trade happened, Ben Pope tweeted this out:
Pope probably isn’t off the mark by asking that question. Boqvist may continue to progress into a superstar, or simply become a pretty good player. After watching the last couple of years, the latter seems very possible. If that happens, losing him for Jones won’t seem so bad. Although, Jones still has to produce for Chicago, regardless of how things shape for Boqvist.
Third, the Blackhawks are supposed to be rebuilding, but by trading, for Jones, it feels like the timeline Chicago is working with is a bit expedited. Since Jones will be 27 next season, plugging him in as a number one defenseman means that Chicago wants him to contribute over the next several years. This corresponds to how much time Captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have left on their current deals. Bringing in Jones is potentially a way of placating the veterans. The team is committed to winning and not sacrificing the end of their careers to develop a couple of prospects.
Whether or not this last note is a factor is pure speculation, but it’s almost assured that the team is going to try and do what it can while Kane and Toews are still under contract. They are the only two left from the team’s glory days. Bowman would have been criticized for not getting Jones. If nothing else, then getting a player like Jones is for the sake of helping Kane and Toews get one more shot at the Stanly Cup. It’s a long shot, it was (extremely) expensive, but it’s a serious gesture to addressing one of Chicago’s shortcomings. In a nutshell, Bowman had to make this deal.