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Seth Jones Tells Blue Jackets He’s Going to Test Free Agency

Defenseman Seth Jones has informed the Columbus Blue Jackets that he’s going to test free agency next offseason.

All eyes are going to be on what happens between the Columbus Blue Jackets and defenseman Seth Jones next season. Chatter has already begun that Jones isn’t sure he wants to stay with the team and as he approaches unrestricted free agency at the end of next season, that he might be willing to turn down huge money and the captaincy to go elsewhere.

That, of course, will lead to all sorts of trade speculation throughout most of next season. It’s a distraction the Blue Jackets certainly don’t need, but one they might have to put up with considering how important Jones is to that franchise.

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Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported during Saturday’s Headlines report that the process of Jones potentially leaving the team has already begun. Friedman notes that the defenseman has told the club he’s not willing to sign an extension at this point in time and will wait to see what his options are before making a long-term commitment. Friedman notes:

We can tell you that sometime in the last week or so, Seth Jones informed the Columbus Blue Jackets that he will not be re-signing. I’m saying ’for now’ at this point because I don’t like to deal in absolutes. But it does appear as if he is prepared to test free agency and we’ll see how Columbus decides to handle this over the next little while.

Jones’ agent, Pat Brisson, declined to comment on what he called “private conversations” between Jones’ camp and the Blue Jackets, while Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has denied he’s been given any indication of Jones’ plans. Perhaps, if asked again, he’ll have new information.

What Does This Mean For the Blue Jackets?

If Jones won’t commit, there are a couple things that are likely to happen next. First, the team will test the trade market to see what a potential return could look like. If they can get a team to package up a good chunk of prospects, picks and assets to acquire Jones, GM Jarmo Kekalianen will have to consider a move, thus avoiding losing Jones for nothing.

Seth Jones Blue Jackets YouTube
Seth Jones Blue Jackets YouTube

Second, the team will have to try and put a winning team together around Jones this offseason. The only way the defenseman will even consider sticking long-term is if he knows this team isn’t a mess. This past season, that’s exactly what the club was. With coaching and player/personnel issues, the Blue Jackets were in the news for all the wrong reasons. There needs to be some stability on this roster and a light at the end of the tunnel for Jones.

And, if it becomes clear that Jones is leaning towards not staying, what other changes do the Blue Jackets look at making?

Kekalainen did say earlier this month that regardless of Jones’ stance today, he intends to keep his blueliner throughout the season and in an effort to change his mind about committing. That won’t change the speculation and the Jones is already likely the biggest name to watch heading into next year’s NHL trade deadline.

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