Columbus took care of business on Wednesday morning, locking in prized RFA blueliner Seth Jones to a big six-year, $32.4 million extension — one that carries at $5.4M average annual cap hit.
“Acquiring Seth Jones was very important to our organization and reaching a long-term agreement with him to remain a Blue Jacket was a priority, so we are extremely excited about having done so today,” Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a release. “At 21, Seth is just beginning to tap into his potential as a player.
“He has everything you look for in a defenseman and is going to be a very important player and leader on our team for many years.”
The deal, first reported by Sportsnet, will keep Jones in Columbus through 2022, and is similar to the deal another RFA — Nashville’s Filip Forsberg — signed earlier this week. Like Jones, Forsberg inked a six-year extension (albeit for $36 million) and, like Jones, Forsberg signed his coming out of his entry-level deal.
Acquire from the Preds in a midseason trade for Ryan Johansen, Jones is considered one of the brightest young defensive prospects in all of hockey. He scored 20 points in 41 games with the Jackets last season in a noticeably increased role from the one he had in Nashville, and had his minutes jump from 19:39 per night to nearly 25 per under John Tortorella.
In March, Jones was named to the Team North America roster for the World Cup of Hockey.
With today’s deal he gets a pretty nice pay raise, coming off an ELC in which he made $925,000 annually. Jones also becomes the Jackets’ highest-paid blueliner and fourth highest-paid player, behind Sergei Bobrovsky ($7.4M annually), Brandon Saad ($6M), Brandon Dubinsky ($5.8M) and captain Nick Foligno ($5.5M).
With today’s deal, the Blue Jackets also eliminated the offer sheet possibility. There were rumblings a team would make a play for Jones in that fashion, and that concern was heightened yesterday when reports of another RFA defenseman, Jacob Trouba, was rumored to be getting a monster offer sheet from Boston.
Looking ahead, it’s likely Kekalainen will need to do some maneuvering to get his team better positioned under the salary cap. Per General Fanager, the Jackets already have just $42K in cap space left with only 21 players under contract for next season.