New Jersey Devils: Seth Jones Is Not Worth The Price

Seth Jones #3 of the Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Seth Jones #3 of the Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Rumors flew that Seth Jones, once considered one of the best young defensemen in the NHL, was going to test free agency at the end of next season. This would obviously be something of interest to the New Jersey Devils, who have been searching for a defenseman of Jones’ perceived caliber for years. He’s only 26 years old, so he’s right around that timeframe that Tom Fitzgerald has been looking for. Jones would give them a number-one defenseman.

Here’s one of the many problems with that: he’s basically been exposed as an above-average defenseman who’s about to be one of the highest-paid defensemen in the league. Someone will probably give him $9 million per season on a six or seven-year deal. When P.K. Subban signed his $9 million deal, he was a legitimate superstar.

Just because Seth Jones is available doesn’t mean he’s a good option for the New Jersey Devils.

Is Jones the same level of superstar as Subban? His peak season in 2017-18 was definitely of that caliber, but that was three seasons ago now. Sure, two of the seasons since then were shortened by a pandemic, but he hasn’t even been at the pace of his 57 points that season. This past season, he had 28 points in 56 games. That puts him on pace for 41 points, which would still make him the best defenseman on the Devils.

However, paying someone like Jones $9 million puts the Devils in a bind in future seasons. This wouldn’t force them to get rid of someone like Ty Smith or Jack Hughes, but it could force them to trade away someone like Jesper Bratt or Janne Kuokkanen in future years. The massive contracts at the top of the payroll usually impact the contracts in the middle. The Devils could give out those contracts if it pushes them to Stanley Cup contention for a few seasons, but if it doesn’t it is catastrophic.

Look at the San Jose Sharks. They paid Erik Karlsson $11.5 million per season thinking they were in a Stanley Cup window. Now, they are near the bottom of the standings every year and they only have $11 million in cap space next year despite having just one goalie on the roster. It’s a bad situation that’s not getting better.

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The Devils are a different team obviously, but the lesson is the same. Paying one player in that stratosphere when young players will need contracts soon is a major risk. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, but it’s definitely a risk. Then, giving that deal to a player like Jones, who may not be what he is advertised, is an even worse idea.

On top of that, the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to want a massive package for Jones. Even though he made it known he wants to test free agency, a trade could change that. So, they will want something of the caliber of Alexander Holtz or Dawson Mercer to make a deal happen. They will probably also ask for a future 1st-round pick. This isn’t happening for Jesper Boqvist and a 2nd. The Blue Jackets will have enough suitors to ask for the moon.

Jones would be a fine part of the Devils organization, but he’s just slightly below what they actually need in that spot. He would be a number-one defenseman in this organization, but he’s probably not in the top 15 of defensemen in the league. He will, however, get paid like he’s ranked that way. The Devils should be picky when it comes to trading for superstars, and Jones is not the best place to start.