Revisiting the Seth Jones trade as Blackhawks visit Blue Jackets

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If you are a Chicago Blackhawks fan the most frustrating part about the team’s 12-18-5 record is that the front office actually tried to build a competitive team this offseason. This is not the result of a summer of subtraction, or significant free agent departures, or a complete teardown to kickstart a rebuild. This is the result of real effort. They tried to be good, and they seemed to think they would be.

Along with getting captain and No. 1 center Jonathan Toews back following last season’s absence, the Blackhawks went out and spent major money this offseason. They acquired a top goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury. They added Tyler Johnson from Tampa Bay. Then they made the boldest move of them all by trading Adam Boqvist and a package of draft picks to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Seth Jones, and then immediately signed him to a stunning eight-year, $76 million contract.

You do not make moves like that if you do not intend to win, and win this season.

Chicago is making its first visit to Columbus since the trade on Tuesday night so it is worth looking back at how this trade has worked out so far for both teams.

It is also worth noting that Jones will not be in the lineup due to a positive COVID-19 test.

The trade

To Chicago: Seth Jones, 2021 first-round pick (No. 32 overall), 2022 sixth-round pick
To Columbus: Adam Boqvist, 2021 first-round pick (No. 12 overall), 2021 second-round pick, conditional 2022 first-round pick

Columbus ended up moving up 20 spots in the 2021 first round (drafting Cole Sillinger), and picked up two additional picks along with the swap of defenders. The condition on the 2022 pick is that if it is is in the top two it will become a 2023 first-rounder.

Seth Jones and the Blackhawks

It became obvious the Blue Jackets were going to trade Jones when it was made known he had no interest in signing a long-term deal. We just did not know where he was going to end up and what he was going to sign for. It turned out to be Chicago, and for Jones a huge win personally given the contract.

The big question with Jones was whether or not his last two years in Columbus (where his overall play had significantly regressed) were a concerning sign for what was ahead, or if he simply needed a fresh start on a new team with new surroundings. The Blackhawks obviously felt it was the second option given the contract they gave him. Keep in mind, that contract does not actually start until next season. He is playing this season on his old deal that carries a $5.4 million cap hit.

It would be fair to say that the early results have been mixed.

On one hand, Jones’ overall offensive performance has bounced back from where it was the past two seasons and he is actually on pace for close to 60 points over an 82-game season thanks in part to some big numbers on the power play. That is good. But that is also only part of the equation, as there was always the matter of 5-on-5 play and defensive impacts to worry about.

Statistically speaking, Jones’ defensive impacts have been a little better in terms of suppressing shot attempts, chances, and expected goals than they were in previous seasons. His offensive impacts at even-strength have been pretty similar to recent seasons but still a significant drop from his peak years.

Here are his year-by-year numbers via Natural Stat Trick:

In other words: Maybe not as bad as critics of the trade and contract expected, but not exactly a game-changer, either. Still probably not ideal given the contract and the price paid to acquire him.

Speaking of that price paid to acquire him.

Early returns make Columbus look like big winner in trade

All of this brings us to the Columbus side of this deal, where it probably would have been impossible for the Blue Jackets to do better than they did.

Let’s start with Boqvist, the NHL player acquired in the deal.

After showing some promising signs in Chicago in his first couple of years, Boqvist was going to get a real opportunity to play a major role with the Blue Jackets, and so far he has excelled when he has been in the lineup. He has been limited to just 23 games this season but has already scored seven goals and tallied 14 total points in those games, while posting outstanding underlying numbers and being one of the Blue Jackets’ top overall blue liners. He has been fantastic in the role has been utilized in.

Given the age and contract difference that alone is a victory for the Blue Jackets. But that was not the only aspect of the deal.

They also moved up 20 spots in the draft, sending the first-round pick they acquired from Tampa Bay (David Savard trade) to Chicago in exchange for the No. 12 overall pick. The Blue Jackets used that pick to select center Sillinger.

Sillinger, 18, is already a regular in the Blue Jackets’ lineup (and the youngest player in the NHL), making positive contributions, and looks to be a significant part of the team’s future.

There was also a second-round pick (No. 44) involved in the deal, which Columbus immediately flipped to Carolina for defenseman Jake Bean.

Bean, 23, plays the second most minutes on the team (behind only Zach Werenski) and as of Tuesday has four goals and eight assists on the season.

When all of the subsequent moves are added into the trade tree, the return today looks like this:

To Chicago: Seth Jones (eight-year, $76M contract), Nolan Allan (No. 32 overall pick), 2022 sixth-round pick
To Columbus: Adam Boqvist ($867,000 cap hit; RFA after this season), Cole Sillinger (No. 12 overall pick; entry level deal), Jake Bean (three-year, $7M contract), 2022 conditional first-round pick.

Columbus completely overhauled a significant part of its defense with two younger, cheaper players (and one that might already be Jones’ equal, if not better) and already landed another potential cornerstone player in Sillinger. Given the Blackhawks’ current place in the standings, they might have another top-10 pick coming their way from Chicago in a few months.

Pretty good return for a player that was not going to re-sign with them after this season.

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    Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews returns to ice, hints at retirement

    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    CHICAGO — Longtime Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews returned to the ice but hinted his stellar NHL career could be winding down after 15 years.

    Toews, 34, skated with teammates prior to Chicago’s game with the Dallas Stars. It was his first time practicing with them since a game in Edmonton on Jan. 28.

    He made a statement through the team on Feb. 19 saying he would be stepping away because of the effects of Chronic Immune Response Syndrome and “long COVID.”

    In meeting with reporters, Toews stopped short of saying he hoped to play in any of last-place Chicago’s nine remaining games. His eight-year, $84 million contract is set to expire at the end of the season.

    Toews said he’s feeling stronger, but isn’t sure if he’ll be able to play again for the Blackhawks or another team.

    “Both if I’m being fully honest,” Toews said. “I feel like I’ve said it already, that I’ve gotten to the point where my health is more important.

    “When you’re young and you’re playing for a Stanley Cup and everyone’s playing through something, that means something and it’s worthwhile. But I’m at that point where it feels like more damage is being done than is a good thing.”

    Toews, the Blackhawks’ first-round draft pick (third overall) in 2006, joined the team in 2007 and was a pillar of Stanley Cup championship clubs in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

    At the peak of his career, he was one of the NHL’s top two-way centers, winning the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward in 2013.

    In 1,060 regular-season games, Toews has 371 goals and 509 assists. In 139 playoff games, he’s posted 45 goals and 74 assists, and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2010.

    Toews missed the entire 2020-21 season with Chronic Immune Response System, which caused debilitating inflammation and fatigue.

    He appeared in 71 games in 2021-22, then started this season with renewed energy before slowing and eventually shutting himself down.

    Entering this season, it looked as if Chicago might deal him, as it did fellow star Patrick Kane, before the March trade deadline. But Kane went to the New York Rangers and Toews to injured reserve.

    Toews believed he was progressing before a relapse in January left him so sore and tired that he could barely “put on my skates or roll out of bed to come to the rink.”

    Toews said his progress over the past month has been “pretty encouraging” and he’s delighted to be back among his teammates. He has no timetable beyond that.

    “We’re just going to go day by day here,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. He deserves anything he wants to try to achieve here.”

    Richardson hoped Toews “can take that next step later in the week and hopefully (he) gives us the green light to go in a game.”

    But Toews emphasized his long-term health and ability to lead a “normal life” is most important. He wants to go out on a positive note and not hit the ice for a game playing through excessive pain and dysfunction.

    “It’s definitely on my mind that this could be my last few weeks here as a Blackhawk in Chicago,” Toews said. “It’s definitely very important for me to go out there and enjoy the game and just kind of soak it in and just really appreciate everything I’ve been able to be part of here in Chicago.”

    Budding Wild star Matt Boldy more willing to shoot, and it shows

    Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — Matt Boldy was unable to resist a smile in the aftermath of his second hat trick in five games for the Minnesota Wild, a young right wing and reluctant star trying to make sense of a remarkable hot streak.

    Does the puck feel as if it’s automatically going in the net these days each time he shoots?

    “Yeah, it does,” Boldy said in the locker room after leading the first-place Wild to a 5-1 win over Seattle. “My linemates are playing great. Hopefully you guys are giving them a lot of credit. You look at some of those goals – just putting it on a tee for me.”

    This non-attention-seeker has found himself squarely in the NHL spotlight. Boldy has 11 goals in nine games since Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov was sidelined with a lower-body injury to raise his goal total to 28, in part because he’s been more willing to shoot. With vision and stickhandling as strengths and the humility of being a second-year player, it’s easy to be in a pass-first mindset.

    “Everybody kind of took turns talking to him. But it’s not that he didn’t want to. A lot of times a situation like that where a guy’s got that skillset, it’s a real unselfish quality, right?” coach Dean Evason said. “But I think he gets now that he helps the team a lot when he scores goals.”

    The Wild were confident enough in Boldy’s scoring ability to commit a seven-year, $49 million contract extension to him earlier this winter, after all.

    “I think I’ve always had that mentality, but sometimes you just get into spots and it comes off your stick good,” Boldy said. “When things are going well, the puck goes in the net.”’

    The Wild are 6-1-2 without Kaprizov. Boldy is a big reason why.

    “You go through the slumps, you learn what you need to do to score. I think he’s found a good way to be in the right spot and shoot the puck when he had a good opportunity,” center Joel Eriksson Ek said.

    The Wild have only won one division title in 22 years, the five-team Northwest Division in 2007-08. They’re leading the eight-team Central Division with eight games to go, with both Colorado and Dallas too close for comfort. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2015.

    With Kaprizov due back before the postseason and Boldy on this heater, a Wild team that ranks just 23rd in the league in goals per game (2.93) ought to have a better chance to advance. Eriksson Ek and Marcus Johansson have been ideal linemates for the Boston College product and Massachusetts native.

    Since the Wild entered the league in the 2000-01 season, only five NHL players have had more hat tricks at age 21 or younger than Boldy with three: Patrik Laine (eight), Marian Gaborik (five), Steven Stamkos (five), Alex DeBrincat (four) and Connor McDavid (four). Boldy turns 22 next week, so there’s still time for one or two more.

    “He’s big. He controls the puck a lot. He’s got a good shot, good release. He’s smart. He switches it up. He’s got good moves on breakaways. He’s a total player,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. ”Fun to watch him grow this year.”

    Pezzetta scores shootout winner; Canadiens beat Sabres 4-3

    canadiens sabres
    Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports

    BUFFALO, N.Y. ⁠— Brendan Gallagher and the Montreal Canadiens rallied back to avoid playoff elimination with less than three weeks left in their season. The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, are running out of chances to stay in the Eastern Conference wild-card hunt.

    Gallagher forced overtime by scoring his 200th career goal, and Michael Pezzetta scored the decisive shootout goal in a 4-3 win over the Sabres on Monday night.

    “It’s one of those things I think we earned that chance. We weren’t fantastic but we did enough on the road tonight to get a win,” Gallagher said. “Smiles all around.”

    The Canadiens could laugh, especially after Pezzetta celebrated his goal by putting his stick between his legs and riding it like a wooden horse — much like former NHL tough guy Dave “Tiger” Williams did during his 14-year NHL career spanning the 1970s and 80s.

    “I’m not sure we’ll see that again. One of a kind,” said Gallagher. “I’d be worried about falling over.”

    Pezzetta scored by driving in from the right circle to beat Eric Comrie inside the far post. Buffalo’s Jack Quinn scored in the fourth shootout round, but was matched by Montreal’s Jesse Ylonen, whose shot from in tight managed to trickle in through Comrie.

    Jordan Harris and Alex Belzile also scored for Montreal, and Jake Allen stopped 30 shots through overtime, while allowing one goal on six shootout attempts.

    Montreal would have been eliminated from playoff contention for a second straight season – and two years removed from reaching the Stanley Cup Final – with any type of loss.

    The Sabres squandered a 3-2 third-period lead to drop to 3-6-3 in their past 12. Buffalo also blew a chance to move to within four points of idle Pittsburgh, which holds the eighth and final playoff spot.

    “Just a little hesitation,” forward JJ Peterka said of the Sabres third-period lapse. “We didn’t play with much energy and we didn’t play that aggressive as we played the two periods before. I think that was the difference.”

    Buffalo’s Lukas Rousek scored a goal and added an assist while filling in for leading scorer Tage Thompson, who did not play due to an upper body injury. Peterka and defenseman Riley Stillman also scored, and Comrie stopped 38 shots through overtime, and allowed two goals on six shootout attempts.

    Montreal blew two one-goal leads to fall behind 3-2 on Stillman’s goal at the 8:31 mark of the second period.

    Gallagher scored on the fly by using Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin as a screen to snap in a shot inside the far left post. With the goal, Gallagher tied Bobby Rousseau for 24th on the Canadiens career scoring list.

    “I liked the way we corrected ourselves, it’s a sign of maturity, in the way we stayed on task,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said, in recalling how the Canadiens recently unraveled in an 8-4 loss two weeks ago to Colorado, which plays a similar up-tempo style as Buffalo.


    The Sabres hosted their third Pride Night, with Russian D Ilya Lyubushkin electing not to participate in warmups by citing an anti-gay Kremlin law and fears of retribution at home in Moscow, where he has family and visits in the offseason. The remainder of the team wore dark blue jerseys with the Sabres logo on the front encircled by a rainbow-colored outline.

    During the first intermission, the Sabres broadcast a video in which GM Kevyn Adams said: “This is about recognizing someone’s humanity and true identity. We know there are people out there struggling with who they are, and we want them to know that they have an ally in the Buffalo Sabres.”


    Canadiens: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.

    Sabres: Host the New York Rangers on Friday night.

    Flyers chairman Scott to retire; Hilferty becomes successor

    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    PHILADELPHIA — Dave Scott will retire as chairman of the Philadelphia Flyers’ parent company Comcast Spectacor and be replaced by Dan Hilferty.

    Hilferty, who was recently named CEO of Comcast Spectacor, will succeed Scott as chairman of the company on April 17 and as the team’s governor on July 1.

    Scott joined Comcast Spectacor in December 2013 and the Flyers have struggled under his reign. They will miss the playoffs for a third straight season and haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1975.

    “Our number one goal for the Flyers will be to consistently compete for the Stanley Cup,” Hilferty said. “It is going to be a process that will take time to get on that path, but I’m confident we are headed in the right direction with Danny Briere as interim GM, Coach Tortorella, and our hiring of a President of Hockey Operations soon. Our leadership team will be fully focused to deliver on this for our fans while also continuing to make the sports complex the best location for sports and entertainment in the nation.”

    As Chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, Hilferty will lead the company’s entire portfolio, including the Philadelphia Flyers. Spectacor Sports and Entertainment CEO Valerie Camillo will continue to work directly with Hilferty, overseeing the Wells Fargo Center, including its continued transformation, and lead the Flyers’ business operations.