According to reports, the Columbus Blue Jackets organization has approached defenseman Seth Jones to ask if he’d be willing to do an extension during this off-season. While the blueliner does not need a new contract until just before the start of the 2022-23 season, the Blue Jackets would like to know sooner than later if he’s willing to stay.
The 26-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports he will think it over and is expected to let the Blue Jackets know where he’s at “in the next few days.”
Speculation has surfaced that the Jackets could attempt to trade Jones this summer if he chooses not to commit to the team, but The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline recently reported the Jackets were willing to keep Jones despite not knowing if he’ll be signing long-term before he’s able to test free agency. He writes, “an ultimatum — sign or be traded immediately — will not be part of the Blue Jackets’ offer to Jones in July.”
Initial discussions had begun between Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Jones’ agent, Pat Brisson but it’s not clear how far along the two sides are, other than to note that Jones and his agent have been told the Blue Jackets are willing to commit big money and the full term on an extension.
“We still have one year left on (Jones’) contract. We’re not going to let a player of that caliber go without doing everything in our toolbox to convince him to stay. I would do everything we can to get him to stay, which means fighting to the bitter end and hopefully getting the right result.”
As for what Jones wants to do… he said during his media avail to end the season, “It’s a situation where you only get it once in your lifetime. Yeah, there’s a lot of pressure and people are looking at you from all over, but I really have to take a step back and think about what I want.” The expectation is that wherever he signs, he’s looking for the seven or eight-year deal that comes with being a highly sought-after free agent.
This is a Bit Risky From a Blue Jackets Standpoint
While there’s not much the team can do if Jones decides he wants to wait it out, not getting him inked to an extension as soon as humanly possible creates issues for the Blue Jackets. If Jones waits, the storyline surrounding the team all season is that another big-name star might not want to be there. The Blue Jackets have had enough of that this past season to last a lifetime.
And, if for some reason the Blue Jackets are in the playoff race and there only option is to trade Jones before next year’s deadline, can they really remove his production from the lineup at that point? If they move him and hurt their chances of making the postseason, the fans won’t be pleased. At the same time, if you keep him and he leaves for nothing, that’s the kind of mistake that will cost GMs their jobs.
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