Kenyon Clevenger The Hockey Writers
Seth Jones Is Becoming Elite
When the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired defenseman Seth Jones from the Nashville Predators last season, he figured to take on more responsibility than he had in Nashville. It’s been just over a year since Jones first arrived in Columbus and he has already established himself as the top blue-liner.
Jones was widely debated as a potential first overall selection in the 2013 NHL Draft before falling to Nashville at number four. His potential was evident then and he is proving it now as the 22-year-old has grown into a prominent two-way defenseman in the NHL. His selection to this year’s All-Star Game is evidence of not only his stellar 2016-17 season but also his rapid growth early in his career.
Standing at 6 foot 4 inches, Jones uses his size to create power in his game while taking up a lot of space in the defensive zone. Because of this, Jones can muscle opponents off the puck using his body and his long stick.
For his size, you wouldn’t think he’d be able to generate a whole lot of speed, but he does. This kid is quick. He has such long strides that when he gets going, he can really burn the opposition.
He has incredible endurance too, as he leads the Blue Jackets in average time on ice. He has been durable in his career so far and even though he missed time earlier this year due to injury, he came back to the lineup much quicker than expected.
He owns a high-level hockey IQ along with tremendous vision. He’s an excellent puck-moving defenseman who can make all the passes tape-to-tape. He also avoids the penalty box with only 12 minutes in penalties this year.
Strengthening the Columbus Defensive Unit
Offensively, Jones is very active. He’s not afraid to join the rush into the offensive zone, especially during odd-man rush opportunities. He will carry the puck into the zone and will operate as a fourth forward at times. As of this writing, Jones is tied for sixth among all defensemen in goals with 10 and interestingly leads all defensemen in overtime goals with three.
Head coach John Tortorella encourages all defensemen to mix it up offensively but Jones is the prime example because he is so noticeably good at doing it.
Before the trade to bring in Jones, the Blue Jackets’ defensive situation appeared to be just okay. But with the addition of Jones, along with rookie star Zach Werenski and improving Markus Nutivaara, their defense has significantly improved. The funny thing about this improvement is that all three are so young. Nutivaara is 22 and he’s the oldest of the trio, beating out Jones by about four months.
Werenski is only 19-years old but you wouldn’t think so with the way he plays. He leads all Blue Jackets’ defensemen in assists (23) and points (31). He’s paired with Jones on the top defensive pairing, a partnership built to last a long, long time in Columbus.
A Steady Force
As the Blue Jackets continue on this bumpy road they’ve been riding since early January, there’s at least one reliable figure for their team: Seth Jones. He has blossomed quickly into a premier defenseman and one of the most dynamic the NHL has to offer. He is a ranging force in the defensive zone, an explosive threat in the offensive zone and an overall workhorse in all zones.
He may not be a Brent Burns or a Drew Doughty. He might not ever see his name etched on the Norris Trophy. But Seth Jones is only 22 years old and already appears to be well on his way towards elite status in the NHL.
(All stats courtesy of NHL.com)
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