Seth Jones has been a popular name in trade talks so far this summer as multiple teams are rumored to have interest in the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman. He does not intend to re-sign with the team when his contract expires after the 2021-22 season. After not getting anything in return for Sergei Bobrovsky or Artemi Panarin, the Blue Jackets would prefer to acquire draft assets, players, or both in a trade for the defenseman. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen is expected to ask for a substantial amount in return from another team that expresses interest in trading for him.
The Philadelphia Flyers are rumored to be interested in acquiring Jones as the orange and black need a right-shot defenseman and general manager Chuck Fletcher is looking to make a big move this offseason after Philadelphia had a disappointing 2020-21 season. However, he should not feel pressure to make a move for a notable player just for the sake of doing so or to appease the fanbase. The Flyers general manager needs to consider the long-term effects that acquiring him will have on the franchise because the defenseman is due for a contract extension and will earn $5.4 million next season. He has a modified no-trade clause with his current contract and could seek a no-movement clause with his new agreement. He will seek to earn more money annually and would be the highest-paid defenseman in Philadelphia after the 2021-22 season if he were to be acquired.
Who Would the Flyers Trade for Jones?
If Fletcher is serious about trading for Jones, Kekalainen will likely request some players and draft picks in return. After the Flyers’ underwhelming 2020-21 season, Columbus could be buying low on players from Philadelphia that would be included in a trade for the Blue Jackets defenseman. Columbus may ask for a package of some of the following players that include forwards Morgan Frost, Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick or restricted free agent Travis Sanheim. Frost could be included in a trade this offseason by the general manager of the Flyers and there has been speculation that Patrick wants to play on another franchise. Konecny had a down year after having success in previous seasons and is in the midst of a significant off-season for himself to have a more productive year in 2021-22.
If forward Joel Farabee is mentioned in a trade for Jones, Fletcher should not proceed with negotiations. The 21-year-old forward was arguably the best player for Philadelphia in 2020-21 as he finished with 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points in 55 games. He will be due for a new contract when he becomes a restricted free agent after next season and the Flyers general manager should make sure the young forward remains with the orange and black for years to come rather than use him as a trade chip.
Jones’ Defensive Style of Play
Putting aside Jones’ current and hefty future average annual value (AAV), is he the right defenseman for the orange and black based on how he plays in the defensive zone? He tends to allow players he is defending to enter the zone and attempt a scoring opportunity rather than closing the defensive gap and negating the scoring chance.
He does not appear to be aggressive, which his reputation may suggest due to being recognized as a top defenseman in the NHL. “The defenseman allowed a carry-in on 67.1 percent of his targets (during the 2020-21 season). In his three seasons prior, he allowed a carry-in on 70 percent of his targets.” (from ‘Seth Jones defends the blueline like Andrew MacDonald,’ Broad Street Hockey, 06/03/2021) After the disastrous season by the Flyers’ defensive unit, Fletcher should sign or acquire defensemen who not only fit head coach Alain Vigneault’s style of play but who are aggressive and set the tone against the offense.
The defensemen in Vigneault’s system “are expected to play man coverage in their zone/man hybrid in the defensive end” (from ‘Seth Jones defends the blueline like Andrew MacDonald,’ Broad Street Hockey, 06/03/2021), which is not a consistent strength of Jones’ game. He would be a big name to acquire but does not appear to be a proper fit based on his style of play and would not be the right addition for the franchise.
Fletcher Should Consider Alternatives
Fletcher would be wise to avoid the temptation to make a big investment in a player with a high salary through free agency or a trade if there is any doubt the player will not be a good fit for Philadelphia. The general manager should focus on developing the franchise around the young core that will take over for players such as Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. If defenseman Ivan Provorov is one of the players that represent the young core and all indications are that he is with his AAV of $6.75 million until the end of the 2024-25 season, then finding a right-shot defenseman to pair with him is imperative. However, there are other options on defense besides top players like Dougie Hamilton and Jones that may be turn out to be just as good of an alternative for the orange and black.
Matt covers the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins for The Hockey Writers. Matt’s priority is to contribute exceptional content about the Flyers and Penguins for THW and its readers. Matt writes for The Globe newspaper at Salt Lake Community College. To see more of Matt’s writing, visit his portfolio. For interview requests, follow Matt on Twitter that appears at the end of articles for THW.