Seth Jones has now spent an entire calendar year with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was acquired, as many of you know, in a blockbuster one-for-one trade with the Nashville Predators. This trade saw former number one centreman Ryan Johansen heading the other way.
Seth Jones: The First Year With The Columbus Blue Jackets
When Jones came to Columbus many were wondering why the Jackets would trade a number one center for a defenseman playing on the second pairing. But when you take into consideration that Shea Weber and Roman Josi were the first pairing, it becomes clear as day.
Since arriving in the Buckeye State, Jones has been a mainstay on the first pairing, and rightly so. He’s composed on the puck, has size and is a smooth skater. He regularly wins battles on the boards, and has solid shot-attempt metrics. All of these add up to one thing: the Columbus Blue Jackets found themselves a true number one defenseman.
As shown by Corsica.hockey, the only two defenseman that have played for the Blue Jackets with a higher CF% are Zach Werenski, who has only played in 37 games, and former blueliner Fedor Tyutin. Werenski is sporting a very solid 52.61 CF% during his rookie season, and Tyutin has a 50.75, which is likely being lowered by his time with the Colorado Avalanche. When you see that Jones has a 50.38, which includes the poor season Columbus had in 2015-16, you start to understand why he plays as many minutes as he does.
Now on to the less analytical portion of the statistics Jones is sporting. He played his first 199 career games in the NHL with the Nashville Predators. During this time he played primarily second pairing minutes behind Josi and Weber. Despite not being a first pairing blueliner he had 15 goals, 63 total points, and 54 penalty minutes. An industrious return for a second pairing player.
Jones has played in 72 games to date for the Blue Jackets; now seems like a fair time to assess how he’s doing in comparison. In his first 72 he has nine goals, 37 total points, and 24 penalty minutes. His scoring ability and physicality has brought composure to what was a shaky back end for a struggling organization.
Who Won The Trade?
It’s hard to compare a centre to a defenseman, but for this situation it’s a necessity to determine who has “won” this trade so far. Columbus head coach John Tortorella was heavily criticized for his decision to get rid of franchise player Ryan Johansen, but it seems to be paying off big time. His “build from the back” way of fixing Columbus currently has them sitting right behind the Washington Capitals for the least goals allowed per game.
When you look at the statistics for the last two seasons of Ryan Johansen, it’s hard to say that the Blue Jackets won this trade. In all situations during the last two seasons Johansen has a 59.45 CF%, which is among the leagues best. He’s leads Predators in CF60 on the man-advantage, and sits third in iCF60. Johansen has always been a great passer of the puck, and this is the main reason he’s so effective on the powerplay, and will likely continue to be.
Since the trade happened Johansen has played in 80 games for the Predators, 42 last season and 38 in the 2016-17 season. Last year he finished his 42 games with eight goals and 34 total points. That would put him on pace for just short of 70 points in a season. A point-producing center like Johansen was something that Nashville was in dire need of to become a true contender. In 42 games this season Johansen has seven goals, the same amount as Jones for Columbus, and 29 total points.
It seems that, despite his fantastic CF%, his point production has seriously cooled off and he’s only on pace to get short of 60 points on the season. Because of this lack of production, at least in comparison to his career to this point, the edge has to go to Columbus and Jones for the winner in the trade.
If there’s one thing that can be said for both organizations, they both seemingly made the right decision. Nashville needed a true number one center, something many think Johansen is, or can be. Tortorella didn’t seem to appreciate the lackadaisical style of play from Johansen, and he opted to “build from the back”. This philosophy has been solidified by the fantastic play of Jones in his first calendar year. In the end, the Blue Jackets are shutting down some of the best teams in the league, and Jones plays a big part in this. Columbus gets the win in this trade, but just by a hair.