The Edmonton Oilers are in an enviable position when it comes to their potential unrestricted free agents this summer. Ryan Jones is one a few forwards that the Oilers will have to make a decision on before July 5th, choosing to re-sign him or allow him to hit the open market. When looking at Jones and the situation the Oilers are currently faced with, the 29-year old still brings value to the hockey club.
When news broke of Teemu Hartikainen bolting for the KHL, the door suddenly opened a little wider for a Jones return to Edmonton. Hartikainen was deemed to be have likely been on the Oilers opening night roster prior to his departure from the North American game and should he had stuck around, Jones may have been shown the door. Now the Oilers need to re-examine Jones and whether or not it makes sense to re-sign him.
Jones is coming off a lockout shortened season that was cut even shorter thanks to a nasty eye injury that limited the Ontario native to just 27 games last season. He only scored 2 goals and added 5 assists, a drop in his offensive pace from the previous two years in Edmonton.
From 2010-12, Jones played in all the regular season games except for four, proving his worth by logging an average of almost fifteen minutes a game. A reliable third or fourth line player, Jones notched 35 goals in those two seasons while maintaining a reasonable minus-5 and minus-7 in each of those seasons.
If he can regain his scoring touch, bringing Jones back to fill out the forth line would be a wise investment for Craig MacTavish, despite the need to re-tool his roster with more gritty and role type players. Jones can be that role type player and with a frame of 6-feet, 1 inch backed by 205 pounds, proving he can be relied upon to bang and crash to help set the tone of a game.
He’s not ever going to be a Milan Lucic that plays on the top line, fights, scores 30 goals and can be relied upon in the dying minutes of a game to make something special happen. The Oilers have enough of those magical players making Jones solely a role player for next season.
Coming off a two-year deal worth $3 million, Jones could likely be brought back into the fold with a reasonable contract offer in the range of 2-years at $4 million. Anything more than that may not be worth it given the market of potential third and fourth line guys that could be signed for a similar amount, if not less.
Of course it wouldn’t be surprising if MacTavish passed on Jones and the notion of bringing him back, given he has stressed that change must be made in Edmonton. There is belief that as many as the bottom six Oilers’ forwards won’t be back next year which would include Jones. Now that would be change, albeit quite radical.
Do you think the Oilers should bring back Ryan Jones? Leave your comments below.