The Seth Jones saga carries on.
Since it was leaked that he was ready to leave Columbus and test free agency, many teams have shown interest in the big defenseman. However, he's still under contract with the Blue Jackets through the upcoming season, so Jarmo Kekalainen has some time to figure out what the next steps will be.
Per a report from TSN's Darren Dreger, any move that Kekalainen makes will likely come around the time of the NHL draft. "Kekalainen intends on making his decision on Jones' future around the draft," said Dreger on Insider Trading. It's safe to assume that the decision will be a trade involving Jones. It's highly unlikely that the Blue Jackets would hold on to him after he made his intent to leave clear.
You can also add the Chicago Blackhawks to the long list of teams interested in Seth Jones, according to Dreger. They're "looking for an elite defenseman," and Dreger equates that to a potential Jones deal.
Because Dreger reported that the decision will come "around the draft," that could mean that draft picks will be involved in a deal for Jones. The Blue Jackets could use one of their first round draft picks, as well as Jones, to go after a big-game prize like Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres. They could also make a deal before the draft, acquire picks in exchange for Jones, and fully embrace a rebuild.
It would make sense to build for the future. It's unrealistic to expect the Blue Jackets to contend for a playoff spot next season unless something drastic happens. Their coaching staff of Brad Larsen, Pascal Vincent, and Sylvain Lefebvre have exactly zero games of NHL head coaching experience. All three coaches are signed to three-year contracts, and the hiring of Larsen sent a clear message that the Blue Jackets are looking to restructure their assets.