A lingering question for Oiler’s GM Steve Tambellini this off-season is what to do with left winger Ryan Jones. Picked up off waivers last March from the Nashville Predators, Jones has been a bright light for Edmonton in a season that had its fair share of disappointments. Jones is set to become an unrestricted free agent come July 1st after setting personal records in games played, goals, assists and points this past season.
After being around the NHL game for the past 3 years, the 6’0, 205 lb, Chatham, Ontario native finally stuck it in the bigs for an entire season, playing 81 games. During that time, Jones had 18G and 7A for a combined 25 points, good for a career best. Jones has quickly become a fan favourite with his consistent play and effort (arguably the most consistent of any Oiler this past season), trademark locks, and entertaining twitter account (@ryjones28).
Scoring 18 goals as a 3rd line player is impressive, and at first glance it would appear that Jones has played himself into a pay raise. But we cannot disregard the amount of inflated ice-time that Jones saw in a top six role. With the injury bug hitting the Oilers early and often, Jones saw ample opportunity to show the organization that he was capable of filling, at minimum, a second line spot if needed. While Jones didn’t turn any heads with his offensive play, his hardnosed style rewarded him on countless occasions.
My personal opinion is to sign Jones as soon as possible to a 2 year deal for approximately 1.1M, which is a slight increase from his previous $975,000. Jones workhorse style is a breath of fresh air, and at the age of 26 he fits with the rebuild mentality. All speculation supports that Jones is happy to be in Edmonton, and the organization and fans should be happy to hear this. This contract will allow Jones to prove himself worthy of being an NHL regular and give the organization a bottom six player that knows their role, whether it be penalty killing, providing energy, or providing relief come injury season.
Update: The Edmonton Oilers have announced that they have signed Ryan Jones to a 2-year deal for a reported $3 Million (1.5M Caphit per year). The 1.5M per year is a slight overpayment but it shouldn’t effect the Oilers roster management due to the larger amount of cap space left. 2 year deal is ideal length for the team as it frees up more money when it comes to sign the likes of Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi in 2013-14.