Reasonable Expectations: David Jones

First off, remember when that goal happened? Yeah, I was seduced into thinking the Flames got ol’ 20 goals McJones in the great crap-swap of ’13 but alas, it was not to be in 2013-14…

The Flames acquired David Jones in June of 2013 as a part of a trade that saw Alex Tanguay and Cory Sarich sent to a team with a coach that treats their players like sheepdogs. Somehow, the Flames managed to acquire Shane O’Brien in that deal in what has become one of the least productive trades in NHL history.

David Jones is certainly a mysterious player for the Flames, displaying tantalizing hands at times and other looking as though he shouldn’t be trusted with scissors. Let’s get into what we can expect from Jones this coming season!

THE NUMBERS

DJ

from HockeyDB.com

Looking at Jones’ regular numbers can be a puzzling exercise. It seems as though Jones, when healthy, can provide fairly decent offensive numbers. However, it is fairly evident from looking at the first column of information in that chart that Jones has struggled to stay healthy his whole career, a fact that was known when he was acquired. This is not a value judgment associated with Jones as a player, simply a statement of fact that can’t be ignored. Jones can’t seem to play a full season. 

A cursory examination of his possession numbers at even strength from last season is a little more damning for Jones.

DJ2

from stats.hockeyanalysis.com (RIP Extra Skater)

Granted, the possession stats were pretty miserable for a lot of Flames last season (check out Smid) but Jones certainly doesn’t distinguish himself. Looking back at his time with Colorado, Jones didn’t drive possession well there either, posting a CF% of 47% in 12-13 and 48% in 11-12 (a year that he scored 20 goals).   

It looks as though last years numbers are fairly typical for Jones and Flames fans shouldn’t expect a heck of a lot more out of Jones possession wise. However, Jones clearly has the ability to score goals and has done so before. Basically, if Jones can put the puck in the net at the level he did three years ago with Colorado, no one will give a hot damn about his possession stats. The question is, can he stay healthy and how should he be used?

Clean_Image_for_Blogs

The usage charts here are fairly interesting as well because it appears as though Jones saw some pretty stiff competition and was essentially being used in a shut-down role. However, he wasn’t doing too great in that role either so it is difficult to assess Jones’ usefulness as a checking winger. It does seem as though that in order for David Jones to be effective, he has to be scoring goals and that his value is pretty much dependent on offensive production.

Another interesting number to consider for Jones is his shooting percentage during his most productive seasons with Colorado. During his four most productive seasons, including two seasons where he was a 20 goal scorer, Jones’ lowest shooting percentage was 14.7% and one season shot nearly 26%. By comparison, Backlund’s career high in shooting% was reached last season, where he shot 10.1% and scored 18 goals. These numbers seem to indicate that Jones (and I know this isn’t exactly breaking news) was fortunate to amass the totals he did in those two 20 goal seasons and that he is probably closer to the player we saw last season.   

THE EXPECTATIONS

As most Flames fans are aware, there was a fairly loud contingent of people campaigning for a David Jones buyout this summer. Jones is making $4 million until the end of 2015-16 and certainly has not earned that money from either the Avalanche or the Flames as of yet. As many pointed out, the buyout was unlikely for a few reasons.

  1. David Jones is 6’2, 210
  2. The Flames needed to spend rather than shed to reach the floor
  3. Currently, David Jones is the first on the depth chart among natural RWs. 
  4. Wait, what? Did you read number 3?

So, um, this leaves the Flames in a tricky spot with Jones. He probably hasn’t earned getting top-six minutes during his time here but likely will anyway because the Flames have no one playing RW and he’s tall and truculent and pugnacious and yadda yadda yadda. Also, if Kevin Hayes WOULD EVER MAKE UP HIS FRIGGEN MIND MAYBE THIS DISCUSSION WOULD BE EASIER . (Update: I hate Kevin Hayes). If we assume that Hayes isn’t coming to join his best hockey buds (I am no Insiderrr, I just assume this I want to happen won’t with regards to the Flames getting nice things) then Jones is easily the most attractive option at natural RW for the Flames.

This leaves us with trying to imagine a suitable role for Jones. I would guess that third line duty would be ideal for Jones, perhaps on a line with Stajan and maybe Mason Raymond. I could see this as a reasonably respectable line, far more appealing to me than having Jones play with Monahan, whom is still getting his feet wet and struggled to drive possession last year, or dragging Backlund into the mud.  

So as far as what one should expect from Jones? Who the hell knows? Maybe this year he stays healthy and scores 20, playing with better linemates and getting oodles of powerplay time. Or perhaps this is a year like most every other year in Jones’ career and he in unable to play a full season. 

Acknowledging the laws of diminishing returns, Jones is now 30 and has likely reached his peak production. That being said, with the team that the Flames will ice next year I could see a way for Jones to score 12-20 goals, but he would need to be more sheltered than he has been in previous seasons. Or, I can also see a season where he struggles to stay in the lineup. 

Either way, Jones is a tough nut to crack because of his career-long inconsistency. Basically, what I am telling you all is that I really don’t have a clue. Let me know what you guys are expecting out of DJ Ficklehands this season.

  • everton fc

    What concerns me right now about the Flames is the lack of depth on defence, according to capgeek we have 14 defenders under contract and one of them is Kanzig and he is likely to be sent back to WHL. Spoon had shoulder surgery in off season and Sieloff is coming off of a season of hurt.We barely have enough defenders to ice our two teams. So for me the question becomes what is BT doing to address this concern? Who is still available as a UFA that could help this organization and who from the prospects and vets are going to be moved to add some depth and hopefully upgrade the talent level?

  • everton fc

    So concerning my issue of not enough depth on defence I went and looked at the UFA defenceman on capgeek; there could be a number of stopgap/place holders over 30 but I would prefer to go younger. I will be honest I don’t know a lot about most of them so it would be good to here FN views on the following:
    Jamie McBain 6’1″ 181 26

    Diaz 5’11” 197 28

    Lee 6’3″ 200 27

    Younger UFA’s likely to AHL bound:

    Roussel 6’1 197 22(Nsh)

    Ponich 6’7″ 225 23(stl)

    Blood 6’3″ 212 25(ott)

    M Mackenzie 6’1″ 182 22(buf)

    Cantin 6’1″ 24(NYI)