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Oilers Report Card: #82 Caleb Jones

June 29, 2020, 3:32 PM ET [12 Comments]
Sean Maloughney
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The 2019/2020 season was full of young prospects forcing their way onto the Edmonton Oilers roster to great success. While the likes of Kailer Yamamoto and Ethan Bear were in the spotlight in prominent roles, players like Caleb Jones also took massive steps forward, albeit in a more secondary role. Have we seen Jones settle into the role he is best suited for, or is this just the beginning?

CALEB JONES
43GP: 4-5-9

Comparables are not usually my cup of tea when discussing players, but watching Caleb Jones play I see so much of Andrej Sekera in his game. Jones is not the fastest skater on the Oilers backend, nor does he have the best shot, nor is he the most physical but that isn't to say any of those areas of his game are a weakness. Each of those skills are in his toolkit but arguably his biggest assets are the combination of his hockey IQ and passing ability. This is why I bring up Sekera as this is the player he was for the Oilers; a good skating defenseman who rarely gets caught out of position and is able to make a good first pass out of the defensive end.

The numbers support this as well. Despite playing nearly 800 fewer minutes at 5 on 5 than Darnell Nurse and averaging roughly 9 minutes a night less, Caleb Jones scored one less goal at 5 on 5 (4 to Nurse's 5). Nurse's assist rate at 5 on 5 is vastly superior but Jones might have the ability to be the next best producer on the backend the Oilers have at even strength.

Of the defensemen for the Oilers this season that played at least 20 games, Jones ranks second in CF% (48.95%), third in SCF% (47.27%), second in GF% (51.92%), and first in xGF. Across the board, Jones has done extremely well in producing chances while not being gifted too many gravy minutes.

Of his 585 minutes at 5 on 5, Jones spent 145 of those minutes with offensive anchor, Riley Sheahan. Together Sheahan and Jones posts a dreadful 38.46 CF% together while Jones had a 52.18% away from him. I bring these two up because Jones played more minutes with Sheahan than he did with McDavid (97 minutes together), and just slightly less than Jones received with Draisaitl and RNH (roughly 166 minutes).

Where should Jones slot next season? The clear answer should be on a third pairing stapled to Matt Benning. The Jones and Benning duo were a huge positive influence on the ice when paired together, posting greater numbers together than with another third pairing candidate, Kris Russell. Together the pair are inexperienced with just a hair over 300 NHL games played combined but both men play the high speed transition game the NHL is moving towards and both have top 4 potential.

Above are some of the great positives of Jones game and reasons why fans should love this player but with only 60 NHL games under his belt he has some key areas he needs to work on as well. For starters, Jones could certainly stand to shoot the puck more. Jones scored 4 goals this season on a mere 38 shots, giving him a 10.5% shooting percentage, abnormally high for a defenseman.

In addition, for a player who can skate and pass as well as Jones does, his name didn't come up enough on the score sheet. In his first 17 NHL games during the 2018/2019 season, Jones registered 5 points. This year through 43 games he posted the same numbers.

The fancy stats suggest Jones has far more to offer and if Caleb can find a way to get more shots on net, I would expect not only his goal totals to increase, but his numbers as a whole.

Caleb Jones will be a fascinating player to watch evolve in the coming years and we could see him continue to succeed in a third pairing role, or we could see him transform into a player that could surpass the likes of Nurse of Klefbom in the top 4.

FINAL GRADE: B-

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