Aim for Matt Dumba instead of Seth Jones

By on June 23, 2021 0

When it comes to building an NHL team, you almost always need an elite center and a great goalie. But when it comes to other positions in high demand, it’s hard to find talented right-handed defenders. Between 2021 NHL Free Agency, a flat cap, and the unique pressures of Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft, it looks like there is a particularly robust commercial market for right-handed defenders.

No doubt about it, Seth jones – currently, perhaps temporarily, of the Blue Jackets – is the biggest name after word has surfaced that he won’t be signing a new contract with Columbus.

Jones’ name has surfaced, and will likely continue to pop up, in many NHL trade rumors until the Blue Jackets (inevitably?) Move him. More recently, Pierre LeBrun let a league source know that “the level of interest is off the charts” for a Seth Jones trade (sub required at Athletic).

Looking back, we might consider the NHL team trading for Seth Jones as huge winners. But, all things considered, a Seth Jones transaction comes with a huge “buyer beware” label. Here’s why a team looking to trade to Seth Jones should look elsewhere, perhaps starting with the Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba.

As a reminder: Jones, 26, will see its ceiling of $ 5.45 million reached expire after next season. So a team would get a cheap year from Jones… but everything else about trading for him seems expensive.

The burning question: how good is Seth Jones really?

Here’s a confession: NHL defensemen are hard to predict. In a May analysis of what Seth Jones’ next contract might look like, Alison Lukan said it well for the 1st Ohio Battery:

After all, how do you measure prevention of something that was supposed to happen?

From last June, the debate on Seth Jones has really started to heat up. Many, especially those in the general public, have and continue to believe that Jones is one of the best defensemen in the NHL. But some eye tests, and many “fantasy statistics” argue otherwise.

Compare, for example, how Seth Jones and Matt Dumba have lined up evenly over the past three seasons. by the RAPM rankings of Evolving Hockey:

(If you forgive Jones for the 2020-21 season, things look slightly rosier, but mostly bring Dumba down to Jones’ unsettling level.)

Now, would it be true that Seth Jones is a right-handed Transformer hockey defenseman? Could there be more than it looks on these cards? Or could it be that Jones is cheating on those trained eyes?

A lot of times when you watch Seth Jones play in defense he certainly looks good. His physical capacities are considerable. But shouldn’t that translate to better underlying numbers?

If you trade for Seth Jones, you make a huge I bet you’re right, and these red flags are instead red herrings.

A trade for Dumba instead of Jones: lower risk, higher reward?

Make no mistake: anyone who trades for Seth Jones will almost certainly make huge investments.

  • Again, LeBrun describes the interest in Jones as “off the charts”. It sounds like a bidding war, especially for the Blue Jackets, who probably didn’t want to trade Seth Jones in the first place.
  • Meanwhile, Dumba has been bubbling over wild trade rumors for a long time thanks in part to the Seattle Kraken expansion project. So you might be able to trade for Matt Dumba below his trade value. (His name keeps popping up anyway; don’t do not take a photo * whenever Dumba’s name appears in these two articles by Michael Russo of The Athletic.)
  • A Seth Jones transaction is likely to be very expensive in pure assets. Next, you need to consider how much Jones’ next contract might cost.

Going back to Lukan’s article in May, estimates ranged from the low end of $ 7.5 million to maybe $ 8-9 million, or even $ 10 million.

And this is where things get a little scary for a potential business contender for Seth Jones. Because mainstream perception is so high for Jones, you’ll almost certainly pay top dollar.

It’s easier to imagine Jones thriving if it’s a system change. Maybe he just looked worse under John Tortorella? But Jones is entering a year on the contract and will cost a lot in a trade, so would a team really want to wait and find out?

They are more likely to pay top dollar with a proactive extension that could look really bad very quickly.

* – Seriously, no.

Some examples of buyers beware

Consider some of the biggest contracts for defensemen in the NHL, and you’ll see a lot of big regrets. Some are not even that far from Sergey Bobrovsky territory:

No, not all big defender contracts instantly become an albatross. But any team looking to trade to Seth Jones should tread lightly. (Even when dollars aren’t that big, the risk can outweigh the reward. See: Justin faulk.)

Less risky paths than a Seth Jones trade + contract extension

Once again, it is plausible that Seth Jones will prove his biggest supporters right. He is talented and defenders have already defied expectations.

Personally, by the way? I would rather go for lower risks, with maybe even better rewards.

  • My first example is Matt Dumba. They are both 26 years old, can generate offense and are right-handed defenders. Dumba would almost certainly cost less in business assets, and its cap of $ 6 million extends through 2022-2023. His next contract will almost certainly be a lot cheaper than what Seth Jones will get. If somehow Dumba costs more / in a similar way to Jones, then… you’ve probably found some gold anyway, haven’t you?
  • Now Dumba is not perfect. Maybe you want to swing for the fences? If applicable, Dougie Hamilton could either be signed as a free agent or traded and then signed. (I would have the same concerns about Hamilton’s bitterness as Karlsson / etc., Hence my preference for Dumba.)
  • Maybe you’re not picky about awkwardness? Mattias Ekholm could be your man. At 31, it is conceivable that it costs less and requires less term. (Sometimes the term is the hardest thing to digest.)

Overall, the point is, there are fewer trade / free agent options than Jones. And there’s an uncomfortable possibility that, even ignoring the cost of a trade and a new contract, someone like Dumba could end up being better than Jones, anyway.

Either way, there’s no denying that it’s pretty fun talking about stuff. Do you think Seth Jones is worth the risk of a trade, and almost certainly a resulting contract extension?

James o’brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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