Analysis

Seth Jones: High Risk, High Reward

Seth Jones - Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks
Seth Jones - Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages
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On July 23, 2021, the Chicago Blackhawks shocked the hockey world and acquired Seth Jones, along with 2 draft picks in exchange for Adam Boqvist and 3 draft picks. Jones was in the trade rumor mill for weeks before the deal happened, and was on an expiring deal with the Blue Jackets. Coming off of a 28 point performance through 56 games the previous season, Jones was seen by many as one of the most overrated players in the entire National Hockey League and for good reason. He very clearly struggled in his own zone and while being an offensive minded defensemen, he was often caught making bad pinches and overall bad decisions that led to a rough ending to his time in Columbus.

Jones was drafted 4th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators after a 56 point outing with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL. The young D man was described as one of the best offensive minded players in that particular draft class, while being praised for his 200 foot game and his ability to skate quicker everybody he was matched up against. He has always been seen as a dangerous powerplay option even now with the Blackhawks, but there seemed to be a bit of a fall off as the years went on.

His time in Nashville & Columbus

Jones spent two and a half seasons with the team that drafted him before he was traded to the Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Ryan Johansen. During that time he played 199 games and put up a total of 63 points. He was dealt after he started slowly in the 2015-16 season, only putting up 11 points through the first 40 games. After the trade, he scored 2 goals and tallied 18 assists and quickly became apart of the Blue Jackets immediate future, and core group they trusted to build around.

Over five and a half seasons, Jones played 381 games with the Blue Jackets. Earning the assistant captain honors which he held onto during the 2019-20 season and 2020-21 season. Jones had 223 points in his time with the Jackets, and began to earn a reputation as an offensive defensemen who thrived on the powerplay. A lot of executives began hearing that Jones wanted a change of scenery because he wanted to play for a contending team but be one of the core players, and felt like his role was being demoted with CBJ.

Jones vs Boqvist

The Blackhawks won the Seth Jones sweepstakes and gave up a hefty return that included high conditional picks, and a young defensemen in Adam Boqvist who has potential to be an elite level player in the NHL. Both players have similar styles, so it's easy to see why the general managers agreed to swap them. Jones is on pace for 52 points this year, while Boqvist is on pace for 24. Boqvist is the younger player by quite a few years, so the difference in production is no surprise to anyone. The Blue Jackets wanted future assets and are embracing the rebuild, while the Blackhawks seem to want to make a quick flip and begin contending as quick as possible.

As far as who won the trade, there are plenty of things that need to be factored in. Team needs, the contract extension that Jones signed as the trade was completed, and the production from both players respectively. Jones signed an 8 year contract extension with the Blackhawks, worth $9.5M AAV. Is he worth that right now? Absolutely not, and I truly don't believe he will ever be worth that. But, he has made some huge strides and improvements in his own zone, and even put up better numbers then last season.

Boqvist hasn't had a real full season in the NHL, whereas Jones has had plenty. Both teams acquired what they felt like they needed at the time, so it's tough to call one team the clear winner. But, I'd have to lean more in the direction of the Blue Jackets winning the trade. Clearing up the cap space they need and bringing in an elite potential player while acquiring what will likely be a top 10 selection in this years draft, that's multiple wins in one. The Blackhawks felt like contenders, but the risk didn't pay off and instead they find themselves near rock bottom, so the Jackets win this trade.

Final Thoughts

Just because the Blackhawks gamble didn't pay off, Seth Jones has turned himself into the teams number 1 defensemen. By no means has he become one of the best in the NHL, but he has earned enough trust in his teammates and his impact is very evident. He will be a massive part of this Blackhawks rebuild and if he continues to improve the small details of his game that still need working on, then he will slowly work his way back up to an elite level defensemen.

I still think he has a level that fans haven't seen yet.

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