Welcome to part two of my prospect deep dive series. Today I’m switching from offense to defense, by looking at Edmonton Oilers prospect Caleb Jones.
Jones, born June 6, 1997, was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers 117th overall in 2015. Caleb (brother of Seth) is working hard to crack into the Oilers roster next year. In his first in Bakersfield, Jones played a sheltered role, playing mostly in the second or third pairing to get his feet wet.
In that role he performed well, posting 17 points (2G 15A) in 58 games. So far this year in Bakersfield, Jones has turned up the offense. Playing in a first pairing role mainly alongside Keegan Lowe and William Lagesson. So far this season Jones has collected 12 points (2G 10A) in only 21 games.
With how well he’s played this season, it’s no surprise that Jones has caught they eye of some scouts. This report comes from ISS Hockey scout Jameson Ewasiuk, a source that I put a lot of stock in.
Since being sent down to Bakersfield, Jones has been a man on a mission. He is currently playing on the Condors’ top pairing at even strength, the top power play as well as the top penalty kill. Head coach Jay Woodcroft has had a lot of positive things to say about the young defender as he really looks to have taken his overall game a step forward. -Jameson Ewasiuk
Ewasiuk confirms what the stats have been telling us; Jones is legit. While he has been a slow burn as a prospect, he is now showing why Edmonton made the right decision in drafting him. He is part of a talented 2015 draft class highlighted by Connor McDavid, Ethan Bear, and Caleb Jones himself.
NHL Role and Arrival
As I said, Caleb Jones currently finds himself in an NHL role. If ice time is any proper indication, we can already see what type of NHL role he can carve out for himself if he can continue to improve. As of right now, he is playing an average of 16:38 minutes per game filling in for the injured Kris Russell.
This is most likely his long-term ceiling. With Klefbom and Nurse solidly the #1 and number #2 options on the left side Jones gets pushed to the third pairing. Sooner rather than later, both of Kris Russell and Andrej Sekera will depart from the team leaving a hole Jones will most likely fill.
While he has not been lighting the league on fire, he has one assist and four games and is the proud owner of a sparkling 51.3% Corsi for rating. Not bad for a 5th round pick no? The only knock on his game is his lower than average Fenwick for a ratio of 47.3%.
While it isn’t anything to worry over what it does suggest is that while Edmonton has a better primary shot metrics, part of Jones’s game is a lot of blocked shots. Fenwick excludes shot blocks as shots against while Corsi adds shots blocked as a positive impact on possession.
Edmonton has drafted very well in the past couple of seasons, and it isn’t illustrated any better than by looking at 2015. Two 5th round defenders already having NHL call-ups playing significant minutes is not something that happens often.
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While it’s entirely possible one of Bear or Jones gets stuck as a tweener, both players have enough talent to make impacts on Edmonton’s roster, which is extremely exciting. Add Bouchard to that list and all of a sudden that “defensive depth issue” that’s been talked about lately all of a sudden doesn’t seem so so bad.