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Blackhawks Bottom Line: Seth Jones Strong Second Half Shows the Value He Can Bring

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Over the course of the next month, Chicago Hockey Now will be profiling every Chicago Blackhawks player from the 2023-24 season. Today, will be defenseman Seth Jones.

Seth Jones
Defenseman
Games Played: 67
(Goals – Assists – Points): 8-23-31
Contract Status: 6 seasons remaining; $9.5M AAV

The Short View

The Seth Jones during the first half of the year was much different than the version seen at the end. This isn’t sugarcoating, either. Jones is an extremely valuable member of the blue line for a team as talent deficient as the 2023-24 Blackhawks. A huge reason Alex Vlasic developed the way he did was because of his pairing with Jones–and Vlasic can hold his own just fine. But Jones, whether it was October or April, was vital on special teams and in doing what he could to disrupt in the d-zone. In short, he always seemed to be in the right spots. But some of his early struggles, especially offensively, centered around the the issue of overcompensating for a team lacking in talent. Head coach Luke Richardson addressed this several times, saying:

“I think he’s doing much of what he did in the second half last year in the second half of this year–he’s calmed down, his forcing the plays he’s coming up the weak side as a weak side defensman a lot to join the plays that way–I think he’s shooting the puck a lot more and harder–which is showing in his stats and it’s helping us all offensively,” Richardson said.  “I think he’s confident, he’s always pretty quiet and calm, a lead by example type of guy. You can tell when he’s a little more at ease–I think that lets him see the game better and that’s probably why he’s in better position. He’s not running around putting fires out all over the place because he’s up and down the ice every shift. I think he’s just playing his position and when it’s there, he has the ability to get up the ice offensively and I just like his mindset right now.”

This leads into the long view of Jones’ remaining six years in Chicago.

The Long View

Jones was very vocal during locker clean out on Saturday, emphasizing the need for “identity pieces” that the locker room and lineup would benefit from. Jones, like Tyler Johnson, was brought in during a sequence where the Blackhawks were trying to reignite the glory of past years. It backfired in several ways but it especially riled fans up because of term and AAV of Jones’ contract. Further, when Kyle Davidson began a massive teardown, sticking out like a sore thumb was Jones’ contract, an immovable asset for a veteran player who may or may not fit into the team’s long term vision.

This is where, however, it worked out. Jones is the consummate professional, leading more by what he does on the ice than always with words. He faced the media during the tough stretches and gave thoughtful, and often raw answers to questions. He was extremely honest in his assessment of things during locker clean out–going as far as giving his thoughts on the state of the team in an honest–and respectful manner.

“We need some identity pieces I think,” Jones said. “We need guys that want to play 10-12 minutes on a fourth or third line, go out there, do his job, be happy that the team won without scoring a goal or getting a point. He does a good job, gets off, doesn’t complain about his ice time — he doesn’t care about that, he just wants to see the team win. We call them ‘identity pieces,’ guys like that that will bring different guys into the fight in those situations.”

That takes us to the bottom line.

The Bottom Line for Seth Jones

For where the Blackhawks are on their cycle, Jones is an important player to have because he’s been through this before and knows what things look like on the other side of a rebuild. Beyond that, his skill and leadership will help give Richardson a strong pairing partner for what will likely be a number of young defenseman making the leap in the next couple seasons. Ethan Del Mastro, for example, would benefit greatly from having Jones on the right side.

Jones has drawn the ire of fans because of the cap hit and the term–which makes it an “albatross” contract if his skillset diminishes as age advances. The underlying statistics prove their point, revealing production that is inconsistent with the pricetag. It’s a fair argument, and having a down year statistically makes that segment of the argument more relevant. His production hasn’t come close to what he showed in his first full season in Chicago–but that also wasn’t a roster hollowed out by a stripped-to-the-studs rebuild.

Seth Jones will be one of the many benefitting from the Blackhawks acquiring those “identity pieces.” As written about previously, it has to start in earnest this offseason. The Blackhawks simply cannot afford to toil another year as they have this year–drifting from one long losing streak to another. Of his 31 points this season, 15 of those points came in the last 30 games, and seven of his eight goals arriving in the final 19 games. Imagine what he could do with a team more flush with talent across four lines and three defensive pairings.

He’s not going anywhere, and beyond a no-movement clause, the buyout option retains far too much for at least another few seasons. That exhausts the argument for those who don’t like him on the roster–for now. But as the team improves and Jones doesn’t have to be the one trying to save the day, his role was ease and along with that ease, the production should see an uptick. It may not be the answer many fans want,  but he still plays an important role on the Blackhawks–and will for seasons to come.

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