Flames RFA PROFILES: BLAIR JONES

Vintage Flame
June 11 2012 08:33AM

 

Still the best picture out there of the Center and his expression sums up the Flames season, but what about this RFA should we pay the most attention to? By no means is Blair Jones going to dazzle fans with his offensive prowess 'cuase that’s just not his game. What he did bring to the Flames a hard nosed effort night in and night out, and the opportunity to give his teammates a little more skating room.

Though he only managed to get in 21 games with Calgary before getting injured, Jones was able to make a lasting impression. No matter where you sat in the Saddledome, odds are you could hear the fans (*Cough* Book of Loob and Walk Invisible) changing the chants of “Go Flames Go” to the ever growing popular, “Go Blair Jones”. Plainly put? By doing what he does, he was able to let the others on the team, namely the offensive forwards, do what they needed to do.

THE ROLE

In only 21 games Jones grew into a specific role with his new club, giving the Flames something they were lacking since Daymond Langkow and his salt and pepper goat-ee were shipped down to Arizona in exchange for Lee Stempniak. He was and remains a forward that would grind the opposition, both physically and verbally; the best part about it, he wasn’t half bad at it either. Injuries up the middle made it necessary to be able to slide the remaining pivots up and down the line-up on a constant basis. While Jones was never going to be looked upon to fill a goal scorers role, and he didn’t play on a line with them, he was looked upon to free up the ice for those guys like Iginla, Tanguay and Cammalleri.

It was tough enough for Brent Sutter to be able to utilize his goal scorers in primarily offensive situations this year. When Jones was healthy, he actually made it a bit easier because he wasn’t a liability in his own zone. He is not the kind of player where you have to crunch the numbers on his advanced stats to get a feel for his role on this, or any other team, but one number warrants honourable mention. His 44.1 offensive zone start was the second lowest amongst forwards, slightly ahead of Lance Bouma, which meant the lion’s share of his ice time was spent trying to get the puck out of the Calgary end. With the confidence from the coach to do his job, guys like Iginla and Tanguay could do theirs. During the 21 game span with Jones in the line-up Iginla recorded 7 goals and 17 points.

One of Jones best qualities on the ice is his work ethic. He is a high energy guy who can ignite the play of his teammates. He’ll be that guy that who through the end of the boards for you and probably try to take one or two of the opposition with him. If he’s not hitting someone, then he is usually beaking at guys that he’s going to hit them. The most entertaining part of that if you are sitting low enough in the bowl to hear him occasionally is that he does it all with a smile on his face. If this guy could score, he would definitely be challenging Glencross for the nickname “Scoreface”.

THE EXPECTATIONS

The expectation for Jones should be to be able to pick up where he left off prior to being injured. He could be a damn good fourth line center, assuming the top three are possibly Cammalleri, Backlund and the recently signed Cervenka (I’m not sure where Stajan slots in just yet). That is a good fit for Blair and assuming that there is some room there for offensive improvement if he picks up the odd garbage goal, then it’s going to be a good fit for the Flames as well.

There’s a lot to like about this guy and his RFA status. At 26, he doesn’t have blazing speed or flash of any kind, but is still young enough that he won’t be a boat anchor on the fourth line. He can also kill some penalties without the coach and the fans holding their collective breaths for two minutes or less.

Not a lot of people expect the offense from Jones, after all he only had a goal and three assists in his time with Calgary, so I don’t think there is any chance that he will be a disappointment per se even if he doesn't improve that area. It would be nice to see him chip in the dirty ones now and again, but by no means should the Flames ever depend on it.

Rather, even though, not much stock is ever put into a stat like a player’s +/-, it’s encouraging towards his defensive modelled game that he finished last season only -1. In fact he was a +2 with Calgary.

THE CONTRACT

Feaster has said that they already have in mind with their UFA’s and RFA’s who they will keep and who they won’t. Jones’ cap hit was a measly 525K for last season and it’s not going to take a whole lot more than that to get him under contract again. In keeping with my belief that Calgary should not be handing out any big dollar, long-term deals to any current player on the roster, Jones will be a bargain buy.

Not to suggest that he signs for the same money, but if they want to stick to a short term deal, they could most likely get Jones for four years at $4 Million per.... No wait, wrong Jones; that was the Avs. Blair Jones could most likely be signed for a max deal of two years, and a whopping $1.5 Million total (or less).

What say you FlamesNation? Should Jones stay, or be given a nice set of steak knives for his brief visit in Cowtown?

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Vintage Flame is a Calgary based sports junkie that prefers to call hockey a "religion" rather than an addiction. He believes there are two types of hockey fans. Those who cheer for the Flames, and those who don't understand the sport yet. Follow Vintage_Flame on Twitter
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#1 mslepp
June 11 2012, 08:47AM
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Anywhere from 0.6 to 0.75 AAV sounds about right to me. He's a decent option for the 4th line as someone who can also play a little bit of a larger role as you mentioned. I don't think anyone will be dancing in the streets over his re-signing, but I'd certainly be on board with it.

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#2 Colin.S
June 11 2012, 09:06AM
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It'd be downright moronic not to sign him, he'll get a Jackman like deal and he'll center a 4th line of Bouma - Jones - Jackman and that line should do really well. And if they play like they showed they can we could end up deploying them as low as 40% Ozone starts giving the other 3 lines a little more of a scoring oppurtunity.

The only downside to that is the casuals who don't understand possesion or deployments and only look at counting stats because theirs will be quite low. But if they give Iggy, Backs, Camms and all more oppurtunities to score it's well worth the ivestment.

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#3 Kent Wilson
June 11 2012, 09:24AM
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On the Flames depth chart - Cammalleri and Cervenka can play the wing too, so there's certainly some room for Jones and (sigh) Stajan.

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#4 Old Chester
June 11 2012, 09:38AM
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I like Jones, and I think it's a no-brainer to resign him. But I did notice 1 thing;

"With the confidence from the coach to do his job, guys like Iginla and Tanguay could do theirs. During the 21 game span with Jones in the line-up Iginla recorded 7 goals and 17 points."

Had Iginla maintained that PPG pace over a span of 82 games, he would've finished the year with 66 points, which is actually 1 point lower than his actual total this year.

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#5 Kent Wilson
June 11 2012, 10:08AM
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@Old Chester

Heh. Good catch Chester.

The real tell would have been how tough Iggy's minutes were in that span and how much better he did in terms of scoring chance differentials and such. Jarome's issue these days isn't scoring per se, it's that he gives up way yoo much going the other way when he has to play against other stars and such.

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#6 everton fc
June 11 2012, 10:17AM
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We signed Jackman; why wouldn't we re-sign Jones? He's certainly brings much more than Jackman, who I do like.

Didn't know he was a "beaker". Interesting. Wonder if he can handle himself if someone challenges him. Gloves off. ??

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#7 bookofloob
June 11 2012, 10:21AM
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he'd cost nothing and is a serviceable bottom 6 forward. And if he tried, he can be a bit of a pest.

It's not even a question in my eyes

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#8 bookofloob
June 11 2012, 10:25AM
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PS that Blair Jones wtf pic is priceless. I use it for just about everything.

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#10 bookofloob
June 11 2012, 10:34AM
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He plays with the kind of work ethic I want all the Flames to play with. I hope it's contagious.

That one shift when he got injured in Phoenix killing that penalty in overtime...that shift is Blair Jones personified. If everyone played with that kind of determination they wouldn't need him.

That's a tough thing to measure, but it can't be discounted.

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#11 Graham
June 11 2012, 10:59AM
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As it stands the Flames look fairly small down the middle; Backlund, Cervenka and Stajan are hardly big guys. Jones adds some energy, grit and aggresive play down the middle, perfect for a fourth liner.

Keep the contract reasonable, two years in the $650 - $750 k range. Keep the contract short, and don't overpay for a fourth liner.

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#12 TheoF14
June 11 2012, 11:00AM
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Keeping in mind what it was that Jonesy was asked to do, I was very impressed with his game. He is the ideal 4th line centre that all deep teams require. I like the idea of re-signing him as a cost efficient role player/penalty killer

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#13 JF
June 11 2012, 11:23AM
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Yeah, I'm fine with retaining Jones. He does a good job, knows his role, doesn't cost much. Him Bouma and Jackman will make a fine 4th line.

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#14 marty
June 11 2012, 11:30AM
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yup, anything 750 or less, he is t he type of pest this team needs. on an unrelated note hey detroit bouwmeester is available.

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#15 Kevin R
June 11 2012, 11:34AM
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Absolutely resign & even lock him up for 3 years at a bargain. Watched his game right from the start & agree with other posts that his energy game was a breath of fresh air, his confidence grew on his new team & the coach was playing him in way more situations than what he is even getting credit here for. He was actually showing an offensive upside, watch the game in San Jose (I think in Feb) where Iggy played like a beast & Jones was wheeling. He even got under Thorntons skin. I saw the offensive upside that gave him 3rd line potential. When he got injured in Phoenix, it was in overtime & Sutter was playing him on that penalty kill & he was fearlessly blocking shots. When he got injured, I saw a hole, he's the first player that I felt came close to what a guy like Neimenen did for us on that 2004 run. Lock this guy up at a bargain. No brainer.

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#16 Sincity1976
June 11 2012, 12:29PM
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Retaining Jones and Backlund are two of the only no brainers Feaster has this season.

Jones is cheap. He is young. He fills an agitator roll that needs filling. Along with Bouma he fills in 2 thirds of a 4-line that is actually useful.

Throw in Nemisz, Moss, or a similar forward and you have a young shut down physical line for peanuts.

I am still at a loss on the Jackman signing though. Guy has heart. But he has zero utility beyond his ability to crash and bang. And he will look down right awkward in the d-zone next to Bouma and Jones.

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#18 everton fc
June 11 2012, 01:20PM
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I wouldn't cement Jackman into the opening day lineup just yet. Remember, there was some interest in him at the deadline, according to Feaster. He is now locked in for very little. Could be movable, as part of a package deal.

I have spoken of Derek Dorsett here before, as a 4th line RW. I'd love to have a guy like him on the flank w/Bouma abnd Jones. I know he's locked in w/Columbus, but if we move Bouwmeester over there (you never know), I'd find some way to pry Dorsett, as I think he has some offencive upside and potential. Move Jackman w/Bouwmeester. Dorsett as part of the package coming back (perhaps Bressard?)

Just thinking out loud on my lunch hour. I know this deal will never happen, but it's fun to consider moves sometime, as an armchair GM!

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#19 FireOnIce
June 11 2012, 02:10PM
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@ everton fc

I'd prefer to move JBo to a team that is usually higher than Calgary in the rankings/standings. At least, when we play them, we know he won't hit anyone (but his own goaltender) and we know his other weaknesses (and can exploit them).

Keep Jones. He's been quite useful and he can fly, he can fight, and he can crow... oh wait, that's Peter Pan. Qualify him and keep him around.

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#20 Ryan Pike
June 11 2012, 02:29PM
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Your fourth line next season is likely Lance Bouma, Blair Jones and Tim Jackman.

I am completely fine with this. They're all cheap and useful.

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#21 Glenn
June 11 2012, 05:15PM
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everton fc wrote:

I wouldn't cement Jackman into the opening day lineup just yet. Remember, there was some interest in him at the deadline, according to Feaster. He is now locked in for very little. Could be movable, as part of a package deal.

I have spoken of Derek Dorsett here before, as a 4th line RW. I'd love to have a guy like him on the flank w/Bouma abnd Jones. I know he's locked in w/Columbus, but if we move Bouwmeester over there (you never know), I'd find some way to pry Dorsett, as I think he has some offencive upside and potential. Move Jackman w/Bouwmeester. Dorsett as part of the package coming back (perhaps Bressard?)

Just thinking out loud on my lunch hour. I know this deal will never happen, but it's fun to consider moves sometime, as an armchair GM!

I'd like for us to try to move J Bo to the Oilers for the #1 pick. Would be great for both teams I think.

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#22 MC Hockey
June 11 2012, 05:36PM
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Wow, unananimous (sp?) on re-signing Jones, I say NO however...just kidding. He is cheap, young, tries VERY hard and annoys other teams. So I think Flames should sign him, but use leverage since he is an RFA....just sign for 1-year deal so he STAYS playing that same way, then maybe next year sign him longer-term if needed (perhaps somone else emerges). As for similar players, I like Jackman but in a trade I say use him as bait, and I hope Aliu or Desbiens get more chances as I think they are hungry as slightly older young guys.

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#23 SmellOfVictory
June 11 2012, 06:52PM
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I love this guy's attitude. He looks like a complete irritant to his opponents, and it's beautiful to watch.

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#24 loudogYYC
June 11 2012, 07:06PM
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@Kevin R

I remember that game, Thornton couldn't believe the nerve the kid had. Totally got under his skin and did it well. After he got injured me and my buddies all talked about how his absence was felt. The intangibles are important with this guy.

I'm also on the bandwagon, re-signing Jones is a no brainer. I don't know if it's his size or his hustle, but when he's out there he looks like he's flying.

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#25 Chris Breslin
June 11 2012, 07:53PM
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Stagan, Backlund, Jones, Cervenka, Bouma, Kolanos, Byron, Reinhart, Patterson, Granlund, Horak, Granthum, Arnold. How many of these are right handed centers? Feaster talked about how they were bringing an X's and O's coach. Hopefully he practices what he preaches when selecting personnel to play for the Flames. The answer is three and there is nothing fundamental about it.

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#26 Kevin R
June 11 2012, 11:31PM
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@Loudog: That game had to be one of the best games I've seen Iggy play in some time. If he could play like that for even 30 games of the year he would have 85 points in a heartbeat. Dont know why they cant play like that more consistently, they would be a playoff team if they did.

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#27 Franko J
June 11 2012, 11:33PM
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Funny how time can change someone's perspective. I for one thought when the Flames traded for Jones on Jan 6 of this past season was for the lack of depth on the farm team. I felt that the trade was a good depth move and didn't have to give up anything significant in the trade for Jones. Even looking back at my comments the day after the trade was made were pretty harsh, and here I am now saying resign him. I guess as a fan you can always speculate but can never fully predict the outcome of trades.

However I was not the only one critical of Feaster of this trade and here are some comments from fellow bloggers to FN:

Reply #11 schevvy January 06 2012, 11:54AM +1 0 props The reason Mr. Jones was brought in was because he was a draft pick of Jay Feaster in Tampa Bay, and played for Brent Sutter in Red Deer. I guess they think he can help this team, because he knows Sutter's system. Expect a line of him, Ivanans and Jackman *shudder* .

Reply #23 Kevin R January 06 2012, 01:21PM +1 0 props Hearing out of LA sites talks with Flames surrounding Bourque. Probably best chance of us trading Bourque for anything would be there for a coach that knows how to push Bourques buttons. Hope something happens soon. This trade, meh.

Everton fc So a guy who doesn't necessarly play a physical game... Will toughen us up down the middle.

I'm a bit confused...??

If Jones becomes a serviceable depth player I'll be happy with that. Anything extra is a bonus.

Reply #31 jr_christ January 06 2012, 02:24PM +1 0 props I know the Flames fans are against a rebuild... and for obvious reasons.

However, are you all ok with slowly moving pieces of your team for nobodies? Isn't that even worse that rebuilding?

Reply #35 ChinookArch January 06 2012, 02:37PM +1 0 props If you give up nothing why should you expect to get something good back? The Flames need a lot, including a depth center/4th liner. I'm not excited by this deal, but the Flames may have picked up something for nothing. What is everyone expecting before the deadline - a blockbuster? It probably won't happen, if at all this season.

I thought I wanted to show that even the best supporters of the Flames fan can be wrong like I was.

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#28 everton fc
June 12 2012, 10:19AM
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Franko:

If you mean Brassard won't toughen us up down the middle, he won't. What I had in mind was Cammy as a wing, and maybe even Cervenka. But I do get your point.

Ideally, if it could happen (say dumping at least JBo's and Kipper's salaries), Statsny as the #1 centre would be ideal.

I agree, too, that we must remember Jones couldn't crack a mediocre-at-best Bolts squad last season. Which is why he is nothing more than a servicable 4th-liner, at present.

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#29 Kevin R
June 12 2012, 10:38AM
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@ Franko: :) Yeah I kinda remember that, but in my defense it seemed like a real minor level deal, Mikkelson did nothing here, I was even wondering why we gave the guy another contract. From the first game as a Flame, he caught my eye & really embraced his new team & determined to have an impact. One of the pleasant surprises from last year. At the time, I was just fed up with another garbage start & wanted to to fast forward a minny rebuild & was hoping for a higher profile trade. It does go to show you how fickle we are as fans eh.

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#30 Franko J
June 12 2012, 09:07PM
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@ Everton FC & Kevin R

Hey like I said previously I was guilty too in my assessment of the trade. Remember at the time Calgary got blasted by the Bruins 9-0 the night before. In retrospect, I think Feaster was using the trade to deflect some of the sting from the team in losing so badly.

With his brief 21 game run with the team before injury, I thought Jones like Baertschi brought energy, life, and optimism to the lineup.

After watching the Kings win the cup last night I thought that for every Kopitar you have on your team you have to have the Frasers and the Scuderi's to be successful. Although Jones may never be a # 2 center, # 4 he provides the Flames another piece in the right direction.

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