Last month our contributors helped compile the Edmonton Oilers Top 10 Prospects list. This month we’ll be looking at each of those 10 prospects in depth in reverse order. Defenseman Caleb Jones ranked fifth on our prospects list. Of all the young defensemen in the system, Jones might have the highest upside.
Edmonton’s fourth-round pick in 2015 just wrapped up his junior career and will join the AHL Bakersfield Condors for 2017-18. A versatile two-way defenseman with a great hockey sense, he’s the second-best blue-line prospect in the organization according to our rankings.
|Prospect: Caleb Jones (D)||Height: 6’1”|
|Born: June 6, 1997 (20)||Weight: 192 pounds|
|Birthplace: Arlington, TX||Shoots: Left|
|Acquired: Drafted 117th (4th Round) 2015||Club: Bakersfield Condors (AHL)|
Ethan Bear seems to be getting a lot of love from Oiler fans, and it’s overshadowed the emergence of Jones. As most fans know, he’s also the younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones. That being said, the 20-year-old has arguably been the Portland Winterhawks’ best defenseman over the past two seasons.
In 135 WHL games, Jones put up 117 points and was the Winterhawks’ top scoring defenseman in back-to-back years. That’s good enough to rank 18th on the Winterhawks’ list of all-time points by a defenseman. Adding to that he won a gold medal at the 2017 World Junior Championship with Team USA.
Jones has shown versatility and that he can play in any situation he’s asked to by combining offensive and defensive prowess. He also didn’t rely on the power play to pad his stats. Of his 62 points in 2016-17, only 26 came on the power play. A majority of Jones’ points came at five-on-five, which bodes well for his transition to the pros where points are harder to come by.
In 2015-16 Jones had a brief cup of coffee with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, and played three games. In 2017-18 he’s set to turn pro and play his first full season in the AHL. He’s still a few years away from joining the Oilers on a full-time basis, but make no bones about it, Jones has a very bright future ahead of him.
Jones could develop into a future top-four defenseman for the Oilers with a two-way skill set. In fact, Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News) believes that Jones can crack Edmonton’s third pairing by 2020. There’s a plethora of competition for jobs, however. Bear, Ryan Mantha, Zaiyat Paigin and Dillon Simpson highlight the top end of the blue-line prospects competing for jobs.
The current logjam adds Keegan Lowe, Ben Betker, Ryan Stanton, Mark Fayne and newly-acquired Yohan Auvitu to the mix. In the short-term, it’s going to be competitive for minutes with a handful having to start the 2017-18 season in the ECHL. Edmonton will share an affiliate with the St. Louis Blues this season, the Tulsa Oilers.
Ziyat Paigin, Keegan Lowe, Ben Betker, Ryan Stanton, Dillon Simpson, Mark Fayne and Yohan Auvitu for playing time, though Auvitu, Simpson, and Stanton will be in the running for Oilers roster spots. In short, it’s going to be interesting to see how the competition for minutes shakes out.
“I believe in my ability and I believe I can make an impact at the next level. Having a good summer, eating healthy and training right and getting stronger, I want to do everything I can to give myself the best opportunity to succeed.”
In comparison to his brother Seth, Caleb is a lot more of a physical presence. Seth will likely always have far superior offensive numbers, but there is an offensive flare to Caleb’s game.
He’s strong fundamentally and as time goes on his hockey sense will help him develop his positional game at the pro level. In the end, we’re likely looking at a future No. 4 defenseman for the Oilers that plays a strong defensive game.