Spent part of Sunday asking around the NHL about the anticipated level of interest in Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, who has reportedly informed the club that he has no intention of re-signing with Columbus and is likely to be traded this summer. Most clubs will let the dust settle for a day or so after big news breaks, but two clubs reached out to Kekalainen on Sunday. A flood of calls is expected beginning Monday or Tuesday after the holiday weekend. If you’re the betting sort — and isn’t everybody these days? — the early favorite appears to the Los Angeles Kings, given their stable of prospects and their pile of draft picks. Chicago and Montreal are expected to be major players, too.
That was the progression of my reactions to that speculation this morning. Shocked, followed by hyperventilating, followed by a massive(relative) erection. Seth Jones to the Blackhawks would change everything for this team. Or at least enough things. I don't know how the Hawks can navigate this summer. They've got the expansion draft, a good amount of RFAs to at least entertain(only one I truly want/need signed is Hagel), and almost $12M in LTIR cap space(ish) between Seabrook and Shaw due to their medical retirements. For the first time in forever, acquiring and signing a player of Jones's caliber isn't impossible. The Hawks aren't in cap hell the same way they've been historically. They NEED a true #1 defenseman and Jones is that dude at 26 years old. Can you imagine how much better Keith would be if he had a stud like Jones running with him? Then that allows Murph to slot in the 2nd pair with a guy who compliments his game nicely and away we go.
Now…the question becomes do the Blackhawks have enough. The obvious answer is not enough. If the Leafs build a package around Marner or the Kings give Jarmo the keys to the prospect vault (which is substantial) then the Blackhawks are fighting an uphill battle though. The Blackhawks may not have any true blue chippers to deal to CBJ, but they could assemble a package that has a trove of NHL caliber players with upside that a reasonable person like Jarmo might look at and say "well, if we give them proper they might not be that bad".
Assuming a contract extension here is where I would start with a package for Jones:
Wyatt Kalynuk OR Nic Beaudin
RFA rights to Zadorov, Gaudette, and Pius Suter
Any or ALL of the Russian prospects: Kayumov, Shulanov,
2021 1st round pick
2022 2nd round pick
If you think that is too much well let me tell you…it's probably not enough. I don't care for your analytics right now. I don't care how much you're in love with the young defensemen. They can have Regula and Entwhistle too. If Jones is there and they say yes to this package of guys that is largely replaceable then you do it. This is a collection of meh, imo. If the Blackhawks get 19 back and he's good, Dach improves, Kane is Kane, Debrincat is Debrincat, they let Strome be Strome(3C with speedy forecheckers), and you add Jones to a d-corps that has Keith, Murphy, de Haan, and a couple young guys then you're on your way. I do think the coach would still be a problem, but the talent drop wouldn't be that much.