The Blue Jackets should (and likely will) move Seth Jones this summer.
After the news broke that the right-handed defenseman doesn't plan on re-signing with Columbus, the Blue Jackets should be actively evaluating their options for trading Jones.
There will be a lot of teams interested, despite his recent decline, which can in part be attributed to the general decline of talent on the Blue Jackets roster. He can log substantial minutes, quarterback the power play, and is a true two-way defenseman.
If they are to trade Jones, the Blue Jackets need to decide what they want in return. Is dealing Jones the beginning of a complete overhaul and rebuild? Our own Dan Dukart argues that it should be. Or will the Blue Jackets look to get pieces that will immediately improve the talent on the roster?
It's important to note that for any team interested in Jones, a big selling point will be how likely Jones is to sign a contract extension since he's due to be an unrestricted free agent after next season.
Here are three teams that the Blue Jackets should reach out to:
1. Detroit Red Wings
Reasoning: The Red Wings are lacking in every category, except goaltending. Acquiring Jones would be a huge boost for Detroit's thin blue line.
Players/Assets To Target: C Dylan Larkin
It'd be tough to get Detroit to part with their captain, but Jones is the kind of player who is well-poised to become a captain himself. The Blue Jackets need centers, and Larkin is a playmaker who makes others around him better. The 24-year-old has been one of the lone spotlights for a woeful Red Wings club in recent years.
2. Winnipeg Jets
Reasoning: The Jets, like the Red Wings, are thin on defense. Neal Pionk and Josh Morrissey are solid, but other than that, there's not a whole lot there.
Players/Assets To Target: C Cole Perfetti (1st-round pick, 2020)
Perfetti has the potential to become an excellent NHL center. At the age of 19, he notched 9-17-26 in 32 AHL games this season. The Jets drafted him 10th overall in 2020, and they have high hopes for him. However, Seth Jones is an established top-pair defenseman, and the Jets are in win-now mode.
Corey Pronman of The Athletic had some high praise for Perfetti in a scouting report that he wrote last fall: "Perfetti is an elite passer, and has the combination of vision and patience to be one of the best playmakers in the league. He has the hockey sense that all top passers do to wait an extra second or make that one extra pass that leaves the defense flat-footed."
In other words, he's exactly what the Blue Jackets need.
3. Dallas Stars
Reasoning: Jones is from Arlington, and a return to home could be in the cards. Of the eight defensemen to play in at least one game for the Stars last season, only four are currently under contract for next season. If you include Miro Heiskanen, who is currently a restricted free agent, that's just five. John Klingberg, Heiskanen, Esa Lindell, and Jones would be an excellent top four.
Players/Assets To Target: C Ty Dellandrea (1st round-pick, 2018), C/LW Roope Hintz
Like the Jets, the Stars have a young center who they're big on. Dellandrea played 26 games for the Stars last season, notching 3-2-5 while playing very sparingly. He's only 20, and still has time to develop into his potential.
Per Jokke Nevalainen of Dobber Prospects, Dellandrea is an "all-around, blue-collar player, (who) will be relied upon to bring a solid defensive game in the pros, but will be capable of chipping in points on the offensive end of the ice as well. (He's a) solid two-way forward."
Hintz is an established NHL forward, and an incredible player when he's healthy. That last bit is important because he played most of this past season hurt. Despite that, he notched 15 goals and 43 points in 41 games, while registering a CF% of 55.4%. To put that in perspective, the Blue Jacket with the highest CF% that played as many games as Hintz was Eric Robinson, at 50.4%.
The Finnish forward would bring some much-needed playmaking ability and skill with the puck to a Blue Jackets forward group that has been missing those attributes since Artemi Panarin left via free agency.
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