3 reasons to re-sign David Jones

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The Calgary Flames have decisions to make with three pending unrestricted free agent skaters. But while there’s plenty of discussion about the futures of Kris Russell and Jiri Hudler, the conversation isn’t as heated when it comes to what’s next for David Jones. Of the three, I think the best case can be made to give Jones a new contract, under the right circumstances. I’ve got three reasons why re-signing Jones makes sense.

Jones is currently in the final year of a four year, $16 million deal signed with the Avalanche prior to his trade to Calgary in the summer of 2013. Since joining the Flames, Jones hasn’t been incredible by any stretch. He has been, however, a decent NHL winger who has put together some nice offensive stretches in his time with Calgary. So why re-sign a 31-year-old at this stage in the game? Let’s find out.

1. He’s an effective player

When put in the proper circumstances, Jones can be an effective player for what he is. No one is confusing him for Phil Kessel, but at the very least you know he’s not going to hurt you. In the right spot, he can help a team. I think Kent Wilson put it best a few years ago when he said, as I paraphrase: “I’m not sure exactly what Jones is, but I know he’s an NHL forward”.

The way Jones has been used in recent times has been interesting. On a tough minutes line with Joe Colborne and Matt Stajan, Jones has been hammered with defensive zone starts against some pretty decent opposition and has done an all right job under the circumstances.

Starting just 36.4% of his shifts in the offensive zone through 21 games, only Stajan has seen less favourable time on the team this year. Now, we’re not talking about Jones putting up crazy totals when it comes to what he does with his tough circumstances, but he’s also not getting crushed. His 45.3% possession rate is certainly passable for his role and looks a little better on a negative possession team like Calgary.

This isn’t just a this season thing, either. Jones also had the third lowest OZS% last season at 35.9% to go along with a CF% of 43.8. Again, we’re not talking about Selke Trophy stuff here, but we’re also not talking about throwaway minutes, either. Jones is passable in his role and a coaching staff can count on him to take the tougher defensive minutes, not get dominated, and hopefully set up the next shift in a better spot.

2. The Flames need wingers

The Flames are not what you’d call super deep on the wing. As it is, they have centres like Sam Bennett and Joe Colborne playing the wing instead of their natural positions. Natural wingers, specifically on the right side, are something the team can certainly use right now.

Specifically because Jones is ideally a bottom six option, having him in the fold for the next few years gives you a reliable and painless option on the right side. Jones is either better than, or a better fit than, players like Mason Raymond, Brandon Bollig, and Micheal Ferland as a depth winger.

It’s not like Calgary has a plethora of potential NHL wingers knocking on the door right now, either. Emile Poirier still looks a ways away from being a full timer at the highest level. Right now, I can’t honestly think of anyone else in the system who we can confidently say could step in next year and do a better job than Jones. Guys like Morgan Klimchuk, Bill Arnold, Turner Elson, Garnet Hathaway, and Drew Shore are all fun to talk about, but we have nothing that says they can get the job done on a  consistent basis.

If an argument for not keeping Jones beyond this year is “there might maybe, possible, potentially be better players on the farm” then I think you’re grasping at straws. Besides, if someone DOES surprise us and prove ready for an NHL job in September, then it’s not like Jones is going to be a boat anchor going forward. That brings us to our final point.

3. He’ll be cheap

The Flames can very likely get Jones on a very affordable new contract. No one is in love with his current deal, because $4 million a season for the role he’s playing doesn’t make sense. But if Calgary can get Jones back at, say, two more years on a $2 million AAV, is that totally crazy?

It might have been a little less crazy two years ago, but I think we all learned some lessons about free agency this summer. Make no mistake, Jones and his agent will have paid close attention to what happened this past summer. We saw effective players like Lee Stempniak and Curtis Glencross have  to risk it with PTO’s because guaranteed contract offers just weren’t there.

I can’t speak for Jones, but I think there’s a pretty decent chance he’d opt for something guaranteed in Calgary as opposed to rolling the dice in July. I’m not saying there’s no chance he’d take his chances in free agency as I have no clue what type of things he talks about with his agent. I do know, however, that teams seem to have more leverage than they’ve ever had before when it comes to free agency.

If the Flames choose to use that leverage they have a shot at getting Jones back in the fold at a very reduced price. If not, well, then he’ll get a hearty handshake on the way out the door.

Conclusion

The only way re-signing Jones makes sense is if the price is right, so point number three is probably the most important one here. A shorter term extension at a reduced price tag makes this a conversation I believe is worth having. If those conditions aren’t met, then you move on and that’s that. This conversation changes, of course, if Calgary is out of it when the calendar turns to 2016. In that case I think we’re probably leaning far more to getting what you can for Jones in a trade.

For the time being, though, Jones still has a few years left of being a decent NHLer who can be deployed in a specific role. Knowing Calgary is already thin on the wing, I don’t think it’s totally out of the question to see Jones back beyond this year.

  • DoubleDIon

    Jones has been a really good two way player in Calgary since January of 2015. That said, I wouldn’t expect him to keep scoring like he is presently. So if he’d sign for the price you propose Pat then I’d sign him. Too bad we have 9.6 million in dead cap with Smid, Engelland, Raymond and Bollig. It makes re-signing Jones a tougher call than it should be.

  • DoubleDIon

    Jones is streaky, give it another month and see if we still like the way he is playing.

    No issue in keeping or trading him. Just as long as if we sign him its cheap and short term. But if we are not in the playoffs or near it come trade deadline got to try and get something for him.

  • RKD

    It will depend on how he finishes the year. Is it a coincidence that he is gaining his stride on his negotiation year or is he learning his new role? Me favors that he is gaining stride. Easier than turning it on just because of a contract.
    31 is not old but 34 is. So how about 2 years max and see how that goes. If his year remains positive then it may be that he finally fits his role. I believe he is quite durable for the style he plays, as another positive.

  • BurningSensation

    Contra to others I see Jones as injury prone, and dependent on others (especially a playmaking center) for offense.

    Unless the deal is a real sweetheart, I’d trade him or let him go.

    • DoubleDIon

      Offensively I’d agree with you. But we don’t have a ton of bottom 6 guys who can finish. I also have liked his forecheck a lot. I think his forecheck often gets the playmaking center pucks he had trouble getting before he was paired with Jones. Like Steinberg said, if it’s short-term, low cost then go for it. If he wants term or prices himself out of Calgary then let him walk.

      He’s a guy I’d move if I could get a top 75 pick for him. But if not, then why not try to re-sign him if it’s cheap and short term?

  • RKD

    I’m 50/50 on Jones, if he has a pretty good season he maybe looking for more dough, if he can’t get that he may look for term. I would be surprised if he keeps scoring at this clip his sh% is at 17.5% but that will come down He does provide secondary offense more than I expected that other players aren’t providing right now. He’s a big body and does play a lot of tough minutes. At the same time, until they get some more young wingers in the lineup it’s hard to see what you have. If there is a kid who can play wing effectively he needs to be able to show his stuff. Maybe Jones is kept on a short term deal while some kid wingers transition in.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I really don’t think it’s any coincidence that it’s a contract year. I also can’t simply forget how frustrating and useless he has been through substantial periods during his tenure as a Flame, no matter how effective he has been lately. I like the guy but my gut says that signing 30+ David Jones is a losing proposition more often than not.

    My hope is that he can continue his unsustainable play up until the deadline and the Flames can score an unexpected return for him. If we’re in a playoff race and the value just isn’t there, sure, hold on to him. But I would be very hesitant to resign him and honestly, surprised if there were not better options on the farm or in free agency when the time comes.

  • I think he’s brittle and absent a good centre, he’s a spectator. A big, expensive, spectator.

    I think his recent (good) play, particularly if it continues, is a good reason to peddle him at the deadline. Maybe one of Poirier, Hathaway, Carroll, Arnold or (pick another guy in the AHL) can’t play the wing as well as Jones can, but they will definitely be cheaper and I doubt they will be materially worse than Jones in a bottom six role.

    By letting him go, performance is a push; we get some badly needed cap space; and, we get to put a new guy in the line up. This latter point is also important because I really don’t want our more recent acquisitions to sour that this team is just another Sutter type team that is heavy on under-performing veterans.

  • Skuehler

    Sounds like we need him to keep Klimchuk’s spot warm, the way Stajan is doing for Arnold.

    With FA’s there seems to be a higher premium (see Edmonton and Calgary’s roster for examples of poor value signings). There are also more ‘unknown-unkowns’ that factor in. If we can sign Jones at a reasonable price why not keep what we know we have in him. He knows the guys and the system. Might be a low-key move but one that helps give us a super solid bottom six for the next couple seasons while the kids do their thing.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Trade him at the right time for a draft choice of some kind. Should have been bought out last summer. Regardless was a trade of bad contracts involving Alex Tanquay. Flames need to make opportunity for the younger prospects and this is one of those opportunities.

  • Three reasons not to resign Jones.

    1. Too expensive: he’s replaceable and given the redudancy in players of his ilk I dont see why you’d waste even 2 million per on him.
    2. He’s in his 30s. Although I will concede that he has been very effective in his role. I, however, don’t see him as being more effective or less effective than Ferland, Shore (potentially), Agostino, etc.
    3. His production i don’t think is all that great and only going to decline. His foot speed is gone.