When it comes to retaining star players, the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t exactly experts.
That track record doesn’t seem likely to improve any time soon, either. Elliotte Friedman reported on the Saturday Edition of Sportsnet’s Headlines that star defenceman Seth Jones has reportedly informed the Blue Jackets that he will test the free-agent market this summer and will not be re-signing with the club for now.
Jones, 26, has one year remaining on his current contract at $5.4 million.
Were he to ultimately leave, Jones would join a long line of marquee players to make their way out of Columbus in recent years. First, it was the trio of Artemiy Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Matt Duchene who bolted during the 2019 offseason. Then, it was star center Pierre Luc-Dubois dropping a bomb on the organization by demanding a trade prior to the 2020 season and, eventually, getting his wish a few weeks later. Their ability to keep their talent happy was already on thin ice. Now, the Blue Jackets are poised to lose the top defender they acquired from the Nashville Predators five years ago.
A player of Jones’ quality rarely hits the open market. Teams tend to lock down rearguards who log nearly 24 minutes per night on the back end, hover around the 40-to-50-point region in terms of offensive production and even have second-place finishes in Norris Trophy voting in 2018. News of his services potentially becoming available will likely set the rumor mill ablaze in anticipation, and, undoubtedly, alter the trajectory of the franchise he spent his best years with.
Regardless, tonight’s news certainly has Blue Jackets fans reeling in fear. Opposing general managers, on the other hand, might be doing the opposite.