It’s never easy.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones is one of the biggest fish on the market this offseason. The fourth overall pick from the 2013 NHL Draft has been the talk of the town for over a month, and for good reason. Jones, 26, fits the description of what the Philadelphia Flyers need this offseason: a right-handed defenseman to play on the top pair with Ivan Provorov.
The Flyers can’t afford another season of poor defensive play and Chuck Fletcher knows it. He and the Flyers have been linked to seemingly any quality defenseman that is in the rumor mill. Seth Jones is the one they’ve been linked to the most, though.
Last week, Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reported that the Flyers are among the frontrunners for Jones. However, “just about every GM in the league” has checked in with Columbus for Jones. It’s not going to be smooth sailing for the Flyers. They’ll have to pony up with a good offer for the minutes-eating defenseman.
On top of that, Jones has a $5.4 million cap hit next season and will be due for a pay raise following that. He may sign with the team he is traded to –– or do a sign and trade. Unfortunately for Fletcher, the Flyers may not be on that list of teams he’s interested in a sign-and-trade with.
Toward the end of this week’s 31 Thoughts podcast, Friedman discussed the Jones situation.
Here are the key quotes from that podcast:
“I’m not so sure that Philly’s gonna be able to pull off a Seth Jones deal either. … I just wonder if he’s gonna commit to them. … I think there’s a couple of places he would consider signing long-term now, but I’m not sure Philly’s one. … I just heard that the big question would be, ‘would Jones sign in Philly?’ And I don’t think Philly is that interested in doing this if they don’t think he will. Or he won’t commit to it now.”
Jones could be planning on testing the free-agent waters next offseason no matter what. If that’s the case, it should bring down the asking price a lot. It may also give the Flyers pause, as Friedman mentioned, because they’d ideally get their long-term solution this summer. Trading for Jones and then having him leave next offseason would put the Flyers back in the same spot that they’re in now.
If Jones isn’t willing to commit long-term to the Flyers, Fletcher may have to look elsewhere for his top-pair defenseman. Dougie Hamilton will be available in free agency and there are a handful of other defensemen available in the trade market.
Mind you, this is just one nugget of information very early in the offseason. We are still a few weeks away from the Expansion Draft (July 21st) and NHL Entry Draft (July 23rd), which should be the start of some major offseason activity. After that, free agency opens on July 28th.