Seth Jones was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 6 in a blockbuster trade that saw Ryan Johansen shipped out of town to the Nashville Predators. It was a stunning trade, one that saw the number one center of the franchise traded for a 21 year old defenseman.
Seth Jones comes to Columbus as a former first round draft pick, taken 4th overall by the Nashville Predators in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Listed at 6-4 and 208 pounds, Jones projects to finally give the Blue Jackets the number one defenseman they have sought since the franchise’s inception. So how has he fared in his time here?
Since the trade, Seth Jones has put up 0 goals and 6 assists, for a grand total of 6 points in 10 games while maintaining a +4 during his time here. During that stretch, Jones also tied a career best point streak, registering 4 assists in 4 consecutive games. The fancy stats also seem to back what we’re seeing on the ice with Jones- he ranks 6th among all NHL defensemen at offensive-zone possession at even strength, and he has the lowest defensive zone turnover rate of any defenseman in the NHL. Dalton Prout he most certainly is not.
He came to Columbus touted as the future of the blue line and immediately stepped into the role on the number one pairing with Ryan Murray. After being limited to 19:39 minutes on the ice per night in Nashville, Jones has taken on a much larger role in Columbus, averaging 24:15 of ice time while with the club. His CF% with Columbus sits at 51.5%, (down from his 57.7% in Nashville earlier this season), though he is exposed to more situations in Columbus that he did not face in Nashville.
Despite shooting a career low 1.32% this season, Jones is expected to contribute to the team’s offense moving forward. Coach Tortorella has expressed his desire for Jones to contribute, stating "Oh, the reins are up. The reins are up on all our ‘D’. It’s just them feeling comfortable skating up the ice. We’ll never handcuff them – they’re an important part of creating offense in our league, with the way teams defend and block shots." He clearly expects Jones to take the next step, and it’s been evident in the last few games for Columbus. Jones has joined or even led rushes up the ice, generating numerous chances in the offensive zone for Columbus.
So, what does this mean for Columbus going forward? Jones, a pending RFA this offseason, will have to be re-signed, as will his playing partner, Ryan Murray. Both figure to be the number one pairing going forward for years to come in Columbus. Jones’ arrival has also allowed Jack Johnson to play on the second pairing, where he is more naturally suited. Jones has anchored the power play as well played significant minutes for Columbus on the penalty kill.
This season may not have gone the way we had hoped, but there is one bright spot that we can all point to- Seth Jones appears to be as good as advertised. If his development continues along as expected, he could be the number one defenseman Columbus has sought for the last 15 years.