The cacophony of massive trades and transactions quickly overshadowed the Jones news but the 21-year-old is one of the top young players in the league and it was a significant move from Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.
The Blue Jackets now have nine players with a salary cap hit north of $4.2 million – it was 10 before they bought out Fedor Tyutin – and Jones with his $5.4-million cap hit might just be the best bargain of the bunch.
Acquired in a January deal with the Nashville Predators in exchange for Ryan Johansen, Jones has legitimate Norris potential. The fourth-overall pick from 2013 was doing well in Nashville and stepped his game up despite being traded to a worse team. He had an expanded role, his ice time increased and his production improved as well. In 40 games with the Preds he put up 11 points. In 41 games with the Blue Jackets he had 20.
“Seth is just beginning to tap into his potential as a player,” Kekalainen stated in a press release. “He has everything you look for in a defenceman and is going to be a very important player and leader on our team for many years.”
Florida Panthers franchise defenceman Aaron Ekblad is the best comparison to Jones in terms of age and ceiling. Ekblad is entering the final year of his entry-level deal so their current contracts no longer look similar. You can expect Ekblad, 20, to be locked up to a long-term extension at some point in the next year though.
With that in mind, here are a handful of players with similar contracts that Jones will likely be compared to in the coming years.
Dougie Hamilton (Six years, $34.5 million, $5.75-million cap hit)
Like Jones, Hamilton was acquired in a blockbuster trade. The Flames spent a first-round pick plus two additional second-round picks (all from the 2015 draft) to get Hamilton. He puts up more points than Jones but is more of a liability in the defensive end. They both use their long frames well.
Morgan Rielly (Six years, $30 million, $5-million cap hit)
If you get past the fact Rielly is a 6-foot-1 left-handed shot and Jones is a giant righty, there are many similarities between the two. They have similar stat lines, were drafted in roughly the same spot (Rielly fifth in 2012, Jones fourth in 2013), they’re both tremendous skaters who tore it up in the WHL and both will play huge roles in the success of their respective teams in the coming years.
Jeff Petry (six years, $33 million, $5.5-million cap hit)
Petry has been solid for the Canadiens. He’s dangerous from the point and developed nice chemistry with Alexei Emelin but his season was cut short in February after undergoing sports hernia surgery. His $5.5-million cap hit looks good in comparison to players like James Wisniewski, Andrew MacDonald and the recently-bought-out Matthew Carle, however when Habs fans compare Petry’s earnings to what Jones is getting they might be left shaking their heads.
Jared Spurgeon (Four years, $20.75 million, $5,187,500 cap hit)
The same way Jones was flying slightly under the radar in Nashville, Spurgeon doesn’t garner the type of attention his teammates Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin or Mathew Dumba get in Minnesota yet he’s an integral piece on the Wild blue line. He signed his extension in December at age 26.
Other cap comparables:
— Erik Johnson, seven years, $42 million, $6 million cap hit
— Johnny Boychuk, seven years, $42 million, $6 million cap hit
— Tobias Enstrom, five years, $28.75 million, $5.75 million cap hit
— Matt Niskanen, seven years, $40.25 million, $5.75 million cap hit
— Marc Staal, six years, $34.2 million, $5.7 million cap hit
— Tyler Myers, seven years, $38.5 million, $5.5 million cap hit
— Nick Leddy, seven years, $38.5 million, $5.5 million cap hit
— Oliver Ekman-Larsson, six years, $33 million, $5.5 million cap hit
— Andrej Sekera, six years, $33 million, $5.5 million cap hit
— Dan Girardi, six years, $33 million, $5.5 million cap hit
— Alex Goligoski, five years, $27.375 million, $5.475-million cap hit
— Zach Bogosian, seven years, $36 million, $5.143 million cap hit
— Alexander Edler, six years, $30 million, $5 million cap hit
— Justin Faulk, six years, $29 million, $4,833,333 million cap hit