A couple of weeks ago, reports surfaced that defenseman Seth Jones doesn’t intend to sign a contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets and is likely to test free agency next summer. Since then, the Los Angeles Kings have been discussed by many as a potential landing spot for Jones.
Jones has been a top defender for Columbus since being acquired by the team six years ago. He’s typically able to score around 40-45 points per 82 games, but has even surpassed those numbers in his most productive seasons. Jones also logs big minutes, averaging around 25 minutes a night and can play on both the power play and penalty kill. He’s also still just 26 years old, meaning that Jones should still have many good years in front of him when he signs a long-term contract next summer.
The Kings are a team in need of better defensive depth and Jones would be a big boost for the group. He’d also provide major assistance in taking some pressure off Drew Doughty, who is tasked with facing the toughest matchups every night and is heavily relied upon by the Kings.
There are some things to consider before targeting Jones, though. First, the Kings need to be better defensively and while Jones can be a key contributor offensively, his game hasn’t been as well-rounded over the last couple years. His expected goals for percentage was just 45.5 per cent this season and was used in a highly offensive role, with an offensive zone start percentage of 56 per cent (according to NaturalStatTrick.com).
If the Kings were to acquire Jones, it also means they’re committed to keeping him long-term. With Drew Doughty signed long-term as well, it’s worth raising the question as to whether the Kings want to try to build a contender with the bulk of their money on the blue line tied up in two offensive defensemen, who should probably each still be paired with a defensively reliable partner to be most effective.
It’s also going to take a lot of assets to acquire Jones from the Blue Jackets. Jarmo Kekalainen has gotten good returns for other recent rentals in Nick Foligno and David Savard, and you can expect that a return for Jones will be significantly larger. The Kings would need to consider which prospects and how many draft picks they’d be willing to part with to acquire Jones.
It would make sense for the Kings to inquire about Jones but this isn’t a deal that they necessarily need to make. It seems as though there’s going to be a push in the offseason to add talent and speed up the rebuild but the reality is that it’s going to be the Kings’ top prospects, many of whom have yet to make the jump to the NHL, who the team will build around going forward. Given that these players are still quite a ways away from really reaching their prime, adding top talent right now rather than a year or two down the road would be a luxury but not really a necessity.
If the price to acquire Jones is relatively reasonable, then the Kings should consider trying to make a deal. He’s a top defender who’s still young enough to have many good years in front of him. But considering it seems pretty clear that he’s going to test free agency next year anyways, if the price is too high but the Kings are highly interested in him, maybe the team just holds off to see if he hits the market next year, rather than sending key assets to get him a year early. If he ends up being traded and signing with a different team before then, the Kings will still have the cap space to target someone else. If the Kings are set on adding immediate help on the blue line this offseason though, they could also look to free agency instead and avoid giving up key assets in a trade.
The possibility of Jones coming to Los Angeles is exciting to think about. That said, the Kings would need to make sure they’re comfortable with the price that it’ll take to acquire him and sign him long-term for a deal to make sense.
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Are you in favour of the Kings attempting to acquire Seth Jones?