Hawks get top defenseman Jones in mega-deal, now will it pay off?

  • Seth Jones has been traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Seth Jones has been traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Chicago Blackhawks. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 7/23/2021 11:52 PM

The Blackhawks got their man.

After weeks of speculation that they would acquire Seth Jones -- one of the best defensemen in the NHL -- the Hawks pulled off a blockbuster deal Friday.

 

They sent Adam Boqvist, a first (No. 11 overall) and second-round pick of the 2021 draft and their first pick in the 2022 draft to Columbus.

If the Hawks' first-round pick in 2022 is first or second overall, Columbus receives the Hawks' first-round selection in 2023. The Blue Jackets gave up their first-round pick, which the Hawks used select 6-foot-2 defenseman Nolan Allen at No. 32 overall. The Hawks also received the Blue Jackets sixth-round pick in 2022 draft.

Jones is a four-time NHL all-star and one of the best skaters in the league. He's just 26 years old and has one year remaining on a contract that carries a $5.4 million cap hit. The cap hit will go to $9.5 million for eight more seasons after Jones signs an extension Wednesday that was first reported by Elliotte Friedman.

"Exciting day for the Blackhawks," said GM and president of hockey operations Stan Bowman. "Thrilled to be able to add someone like Seth Jones to our team. He's an impact defenseman that we've been searching for for quite some time. To finally be able to add him to our group is a huge move.

"It changes the complexion of our defense, but (also) our team in general."

So will it be worth it for the Hawks? Good question.

Let's be clear here: Bowman paid a heavy, heavy price. Boqvist is the least of the issues, too. He's an undersized D-man who will have a nice career, but will likely never be a true top-pairing guy.

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The draft picks are another story, especially if next year's turns out to be No. 3, 4 or 5.

There are those who believe this deal will ruin the Hawks for years to come. And it might.

But to jump to such conclusions so quickly is sheer lunacy. The Hawks now have a true top D-man -- something that has eluded them for five years.

Jones can quarterback the power play. Kill penalties. Defend his zone better than any Hawks player since Duncan Keith was in his prime.

And at 6-foot-4, 209 pounds he adds some serious muscle and physicality to coach Jeremy Colliton's undersized bunch.

"They won with Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson and Oduya," texted NHL analyst Kevin Weekes. "Them getting Jones is massive!!"

Jones scored 28 goals from 2016-18, but averaged just 6.7 the last three seasons. His underlying numbers suffered as well, but there were some mitigating factors involved -- not the least of which being that his partner, Zach Werenski, was given tons of freedom in the offensive zone. This often left Jones as the last line of defense to hold off odd-man rushes going the other way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Colliton is a defense-first coach, so right now this appears to be a match made in hockey heaven.

"Seth is a very, very impressive player," Bowman said. "He's one of those players that isn't just locked in as an offensive guy. He can defend, he can transport the puck, he can carry the puck. He can make plays. He's got the size to be able to match up against really strong forwards, but he's also got the skating to be able to defend the quick players as well. ...

"So their team wasn't at their best last year, and as to why that is you can probably break it down a number of different ways. But you look at the body of work with somebody like Seth and it gets us really excited."

Now, the $9.5 million cap hit may be an issue down the road, but this is much different from when Bowman gave Brent Seabrook an eight-year, $55 million extension when Seabrook was already 30.

Jones -- who has averaged 25-plus minutes of ice time for three straight seasons -- has plenty of good years left and can be a cornerstone of the Hawks' rebuilding project.

Draft picks are nice -- and some of them pan out extremely well. Yet they all come with some risk.

There's very little of that when it comes to Jones.

So take a deep breath. Relax. And understand that we won't know how this works out for the Hawks or Columbus for many years to come.

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