By now, it's not much of a secret. Seth Jones is one of the best defensemen in the world.
Even better? He will be 24 years old when the 2018-19 season begins.
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said he was surprised that Jones didn't garner more Norris Trophy buzz last season, a season in which Jones firmly locked himself in as the team's No. 1 defenseman and finished among the NHL's best defensemen in terms of goals and total scoring.
Jones scored 16 goals and added 41 assists, both career highs, and only seemed to get better as the games got more important. He's a franchise cornerstone in Columbus, and perhaps finally, he's getting the national attention he deserves.
In a preseason Norris Trophy handicapping, The Hockey News lists Jones as its top candidate for the NHL's best defenseman honors.
Here's a snippet of their analysis, courtesy of Matt Larkin:
Long, rangy and a great skater, Jones always projected to be a phenom, and he truly busted out in the second half last year, when he was arguably the NHL’s best defenseman for a two-month stretch. In one 16-game chunk from mid-February to early April, he went nuclear for eight goals and 21 points in 16 games. The late surge gave him season-ending totals of 16 goals and 57 points. Jones also ranked 12th in the NHL in 5-on-5 Relative Corsi. He was a dominant force all over the ice, and he finished fourth in Norris Trophy voting.
Jones made his preseason debut on Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. He's hopeful to have his defense partner, Zach Werenski, healthy and ready to play in the season opener after offseason shoulder surgery.
If Jones puts together another Norris-caliber season, the Blue Jackets will be in good shape.
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