In a Canadian market, the “Coming Home” adventure is consistently article in your aback pocket. A way to advertise players on allotment to comedy for a aggregation based on action and nostalgia. It’s a acceptable story: one that John Tavares bought aback accustomed the befalling to comedy for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hockey in Texas will never get to tap into that affectionate of storyline. Until now.
Seth Jones, the above fourth all-embracing pick, was built-in in Arlington, TX and he’s on the barter block. His history is a big, counterintuitive account of hockey and Big Red. His dad, Ronald Popeye Jones, played for the Dallas Mavericks aback aback both teams aggregate Reunion Arena. Meanwhile, Seth himself played for the Dallas Stars’ Bantam Above team. How air-conditioned would it be to accompany an aristocratic hockey amateur aback to the biscuits and gravy of Texas’ stockyards he was artificial in?
You apprehend that? That’s the complete of acreage crickets chirping in response. I guess, for acceptable reason. Why would Dallas charge Jones? Is there annihilation to announce that the Stars are interested? They already accept a lot of boxy decisions advancing up, amid Miro Heiskanen’s new deal, John Klingberg’s abutting deal, whether to accrue Jamie Oleksiak (something Dallas acutely wants if their bounce of Winnipeg’s action is any indication), and more. Adding Jones to the roster, who abandoned has one year larboard on his $5.4M deal, would complicate, rather than clarify, Dallas’ approaching blueline.
We’ll get to that later, but for now, let’s attending at Seth Jones the player. He’s been the accountable of altercation in the analytics community. On the ice, he looks like aggregate you’d appetite in a defenceman. He can skate, he can pass, he can shoot, and he can dumpster Tom Wilson. What’s not to love? According to the numbers: a lot.
But not so fast.
Finding the best arrangement to bigger accept the accuracy of a accustomed abnormality started able-bodied afore mathematicians collided with old academy hockey admirers on amateur analysis. It goes all the way aback to Bertrand Russell calling out the empiricists, with empiricists battlefront aback at the rationalists about who knows what. In Seth Jones, we accept a agnate agitation revolving about the accord amid facts and truth. Do the facts about his achievement over the aftermost several years acquaint us the accuracy about his amount as a player?
Jones hasn’t had the appulse you would apprehend out of an aristocratic defenceman who will acceptable get paid like one afterwards abutting season. In fact, his aftermost three seasons accept been berserk different. As a 24-year old, he showed solid growth: breeding shots, suppressing shots, and allowance accomplish goals. But over the aftermost two seasons, his absolute breach (shot impact) has declined, while his absolute breach (goal impact) went from acceptable to inert.
I haven’t watched a ton of Blue Jackets games. Pretending to allocution intelligently about Jones’ bold feels like cheating. It’s why I accept the actual animal acknowledgment of activity agnostic by analytics as added accuracy than fact. A bad brand on a assay will reflect a poor performance. But does it reflect poor understanding? Does it reflect our affection as students?
Maybe. Maybe not. We can abandoned acknowledgment that catechism as history unfolds to accrue added certainty. Analytics are a accumulating of facts, but they are not a accumulating of ethics or meaning. What would Jones’ admittance into the Stars blueline beggarly for Dallas’ approaching performance?
Thankfully Charlie O’Connor over at The Athletic, absorption the aforementioned catechism but from a Flyers perspective, tracked bottomward Alison Lukan, who has covered Jones on the exhausted but additionally respects the acumen numbers can offer. The cliffs notes:
That aftermost allotment by Alison is key, and it’s article I accede with. Going aback to the ‘homework’ analogy, a bad brand on a assay measures achievement for the test, and further, a bad brand for the division ability admeasurement acceptable or bad compassionate of the material. But does it admeasurement acceptable or bad habits, and acceptable or bad development? With offense, players are bestowed their answers in points. With defense, players charge accomplish their own answers. It can beggarly acceptable aegis from acceptable breach a la Cale Makar. Or it can beggarly acceptable aegis from acceptable aegis a la Drew Doughty in his prime. Regardless, it’s no admiration that best Norris Trophy winners tend to be older. Jones is still aloof 26.
Analytics are important. There’s a acumen why the league’s best aristocratic teams accept invested in them. They’re important as abundant for what they acquaint us as what they don’t. They advice us analyze the altitude from the weather. As O’Connor credibility out, players like Roman Josi and Alex Pietrangelo were already boogeymen in the analytics community: players advised good, but conceivably their amount was skewed added by acumen than raw performance. We’ve alike apparent this with attempt affection assay in contempo years, area backlash shots accept amorphous to calculation for beneath in accepted ambition models. There’s little agnosticism about Josi and Pietrangelo at this point. In added words, aloof as the acclimate can change, so can the climate.
We can allocution about Jones’ amount til’ the longhorns appear home, but in what apple does it accomplish faculty for Dallas?
Well, it doesn’t.
Dallas has a complicated blueline bearings as is. Why added complicate it? As impaired as this sounds, maybe that’s absolutely why. For one, it’s gonna be adamantine to absolve giving Jamie Oleksiak the affectionate of money Seth Jones is authoritative abutting season. Not abandoned will Miro Heiskanen get paid, but so will Klingberg, bold they accept to accord him his (deserved) raise.
Columbus is accident a big allotment of their blueline. They’ll charge a backup for Jones, accession active to term, which can potentially advice action their 18-carat angel issue. With Max Domi out for awhile, they’ll additionally charge some centermost abyss as well. So I adduce Esa Lindell, Jason Dickinson, and a 2021 3rd annular aces for Seth Jones and a 2021 5th annular pick.
Using Evolving-Hockey’s arrangement projections, I’m bold Heiskanen is accustomed abounding term, not a arch deal, and all the RFA’s are brought back. Bold Dallas offers Seattle a few picks to booty Anton Khudobin, and some chargeless bureau spice, here’s an Armchair GM’s aperture night roster.
Here’s my altercation against: it eases the accountability of two things – overpaying Oleksiak, and Lindell. And it does it while convalescent the blueline. There’s a above catch, of course. It doesn’t analyze Klingberg’s abutting contract. But then, what does? Dallas is gonna be in a bind no amount what. Here, Dallas gets to potentially accomplish the best amid Jones and Klingberg. Meanwhile, it’s abundant easier to acquisition a affection band-aid for a LHD, like Edler, than it is a RHD.
I’ve apparent admirers booty affair with Harley ‘replacing’ Lindell because he offers breach instead of defense, which I don’t get. For one, Harley’s abilities activity to braid bigger with Klingberg. It’s aloof as important to assure the bogie with movement and accomplishment as it is to comedy the gap abroad from the puck. And two, Dallas drafted Harley to be a top four defenseman. That’s area he’ll eventually play, behindhand of his style. It’s not an accessible decision. And it’s a chancy bet no amount what. But it signals a austere advance for the Cup.
As abundant as I allocution tough, there are no accessible decisions. I’m apparently absolutely off my rocker with this. Would I actively cull the activate on this one? Apparently not. GMs don’t accomplish decisions in a vacuum. They accept jobs to keep, reputations to protect, and relationships to nourish. Jim Nill has a aggregation that is one year removed from authoritative the Stanley Cup Finals. Why accomplish a big splash?
In addition, Jones’ adapted plus-minus over the aftermost three seasons is eerily agnate to Lindell, with both accepting a bashful appulse on breach at EV, and with decidedly boilerplate (or actively bad in Jones’ case aback it comes to attempt affection allowed, and in Lindell’s case, attempt attempts allowed) arresting numbers that bely their reputations. Of course, Jones is additionally one year younger, and with 170 added points. So there’s additionally that. And there’s additionally this: a division of Dallas’ even-strength goals this division came from Dallas blueliners this season.
If Dallas’ action to carry their offense, both absolute and absolute (seen below), through their blueline is article they appetite to advance on…
Wouldn’t it accomplish faculty to add addition weapon? Especially if you can do so afterwards sacrificing defense?
But this isn’t a continued appellation solution. It’s a one-season fix.
True. But then, who is Dallas afterwards abutting division anyway? Dallas may abandoned get one division of Jones and Klingberg, but I doubtable it’ll be accessible to assurance at atomic one of them. Afterwards all, Dallas should be an acutely aggressive team. That’s an accessible advertise for bringing players back.
Also, the Stars will lose Radulov and Pavelski for annihilation too. Dallas’ chips are all-in abutting division no amount what. Afterwards that it’s gonna be the abstract active their core. If Dallas is attractive to abstract a athletic right-handed blueliner like Corson Ceulemans*, as Saad has Dallas doing, that could be addition arresting that Dallas will be attractive to focus on the Heiskanen and Hintz window rather than the Benn and Seguin one, and accordingly attractive to cut cap abiding by alive on blueline depth.
The worst-case scenario, and the acumen why Nill isn’t the idiot that I am, is that Dallas loses Jones and Klingberg for nothing. I don’t anticipate that would, or alike could, happen. Nill has a able acceptability in the NHL association — accurately amid NHL agents, area it affairs best (well, additional best beneath the draft) — for acceptable reason: he’s a reasonable man to assignment with. But the achievability abandoned ability be acumen abundant to abstain it.
In my defense, I anticipate of Stanley Cup-winning teams like abundant music records. They don’t all accept to be winners. And besides: what’s amiss with actuality a one-hit wonder? Dexy’s Midnight Runners may not be a allotment of history, but Appear On Eileen abiding is.
*Ceulemans isn’t my claimed aces but he’s good. Real good.
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