Jones wont sign extension, Blue Jackets to weigh every option: report

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Seth Jones does not plan to sign a contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who will “weigh every option possible,” according to reports.

“If [Jones] chooses not to sign a long-term deal, I won’t disrespect him for it,” Blue Jackets president John Davidson told The Columbus Dispatch on Sunday. “He has that right. I mean, that’s the business of hockey. He’s a player we’d love to have for the long term, but if that’s not going to work out, then we have to do what we have to do to protect our franchise to continue to build a hockey club with players that want to be here. It’s that simple.

“… Everything will be on top of the table. Anything can happen, one way or the other, depending on what Seth’s decision is. That’s just being forthright. You’ve got to weigh every option possible to do what’s right for your club.”

Jones can become an unrestricted free agent after next season. The 26-year-old defenseman has one season remaining on the six-year, $32.4 million contract ($5.4 million annual average value) he signed June 29, 2016.

On Saturday, Sportsnet reported Jones has no immediate plans to sign an extension and is interested in pursuing free agency, something Jones alluded to when he spoke at the end of the regular season.

“I think it’s a situation that you only get it once in your lifetime and, yeah, there’s a lot of pressure and people are looking at you from all over,” Jones said May 10. “I really have to take a step back and think about what I want. I could very well be here, but I’m just unwinding right now, and I’ll obviously be in touch with [general manager] Jarmo [Kekalainen] very soon.

“I’m definitely not making a decision right now. I’m here for another year. I plan to be here for another year, and we’ll see where that goes.”

Davidson, who returned to the Blue Jackets on May 20 after two seasons with the New York Rangers, said communication has been good between Jones and Kekalainen.

“Seth’s been very open with Jarmo,” Davidson said. “They’ve had great discussions and they’re going to continue having discussions and they’re going to be in-house. It’s professional. That’s the way we want to do our business.”

Jones has scored 223 points (50 goals, 173 assists) in 381 NHL games since the Blue Jackets acquired him in a trade with the Nashville Predators for center Ryan Johansen on Jan. 6, 2016. Jones scored 28 points (five goals, 23 assists) in 56 games this season, when Columbus (18-26-12) tied the Detroit Red Wings for seventh in the eight-team Discover Central Division and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in five seasons.

Video: CBJ@CAR: Jones buries a shot for the overtime winner

“I think everyone knows how important [Jones] is as a person and as a player to the city and the organization,” defenseman Zach Werenski said.

Jones is one of many decisions facing the Blue Jackets. Forward Patrik Laine can become a restricted free agent July 28, and Columbus needs to hire a coach after it announced May 9 that John Tortorella would not return after six seasons.

Forward Nick Foligno was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a three-team deal with the San Jose Sharks on April 11, when the Blue Jackets acquired a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft from the Maple Leafs. 

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, forward Artemi Panarin and center Matt Duchene left in free agency after the 2018-19 season. Forward Pierre-Luc Dubois was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Laine on Jan. 23. Forward Josh Anderson was traded to the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 6 for center Max Domi and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Tweet from @DispatchAlerts: Blue Jackets taking steady approach to report Seth Jones doesn’t want to stay https://t.co/UJ8eE58izj

Tweet from @Sportsnet: The Columbus Blue Jackets may have to add another item on their off-season to-do list.https://t.co/8x2fil3SXl

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