Why Blackhawks should make serious run at Blue Jackets' Jones
The Blackhawks are the lead horse in the Seth Jones derby.
Wait, no they're not.
Actually, yes they are.
Hold on -- they're not.
Depending on which way the wind's blowing, the swirling rumor mill has the Columbus Blue Jackets' standout defenseman being traded to the Hawks one day and the Avalanche, Stars, Kings, Canadiens or somebody else the next.
Adding the 26-year-old Jones to a young defense corps would obviously help the Hawks on the back end.
But would it be worth the cost -- not only in lost players but also in the salary Jones will command.
It says here that, yes, it will most likely be worth it.
Give Columbus Kirby Dach and a defenseman like Ian Mitchell or Nicolas Beaudin plus a 2022 second-round pick. According to the Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Keklainen really wants a centerman and isn't that worried about draft picks.
And if it takes the first-round 2022 pick? So be it.
Some are worried that Jones -- who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022 -- struggled last season, posting just 5 goals, 23 assists and a minus-18 rating in 56 games. Plenty of underlying issues led to this, however, not the least of which was the fact that his defense partner -- Zach Werenski -- was allowed to push the pace offensively, often leaving Jones on his own when Werenski got trapped in deep.
Werenski also played with a sports hernia for much of last season, which affected his skating. This affected Jones as well.
The powerful 6-foot-4, 209-pound Jones is one of the best skaters in the league -- a true No. 1 defenseman that the Hawks have been lacking for years.
Now, I hear a lot of you screaming about losing Dach. Isn't he supposed to be the Hawks' No. 1 center of the future.
That was definitely the plan when GM Stan Bowman drafted him No. 3 overall in 2019. But while certainly talented and capable, Dach doesn't appear to be a true generational talent that will alter the course of a franchise. It's debatable as to whether he'll even average 45-50 points a season.
If made, the move would leave the Hawks thinner at center, but they are getting Jonathan Toews back and can address the loss of Dach when free agency opens July 28.
Speaking of free agency, the Hawks can obviously make a run at unrestricted free agent Dougie Hamilton, another top-tier defenseman. If Bowman believes he can land the 28-year-old, it's likely a no brainer to go this route instead of losing assets for Jones.
Still, Hamilton -- who has averaged an eye-popping 13.5 goals the past seven seasons -- isn't the true shutdown defender Jones is.
Plus, Hamilton can sign anywhere. While Chicago is an Original Six team and a city guys love to play in, he will consider how close the Hawks are to contending for a Stanley Cup.
Jones may have the same thoughts, of course, but he could be lured to Chicago so he can play with his younger brother, Caleb, whom the Hawks acquired from Edmonton in the Duncan Keith deal last week.
So is your head spinning?
The Hawks are definitely in a weird spot -- a crossroads that could define the next five-plus years. Unless they are uber confident they can land Hamilton, I'd make the move for Jones.
Yes, the price will be steep.
But more than worth it in the end.
• Follow John on Twitter @johndietzdh