The best draft day Caleb Jones scouting report came from Caleb Jones:
- I play a bit like my brother, I think we’re both two-way defencemen. I think I’m a little more of a physical and aggressive player than he is but I’d say in the sense of the entire game we’re pretty alike.”
Jones was not a famous prospect (despite being Seth’s brother) and his offense (25gp, 2-6-8 with the US National Development Team in the USHL) did not suggest what was to come. One thing we learned from the last two years? The US National Development Team obscures offense from some of their defensemen. Another thing we learned? Caleb Jones was a more substantial prospect than what was available to us first blush.
RE 17-18: 1GP, 0-0-0
- What role will Jones apply for? If he flourishes and completes development time in the AHL (it could take six months or two years), I think he’ll apply for third pairing and provide two-way play. He has to develop but the toolbox appears to be there. He may have top 4D upside but we can’t see that from here. All three game disciplines seem possible based on his skills.
- Will the Oilers slow play Jones? Historically, the team has brought along defensemen pretty well. He is blocked a little by Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Seker and Darnell Nurse, so it may not be slow play as opposed to no room at the inn.
- Does he have a real chance? Jones is part of a large group of defensemen arriving at the same time in pro hockey. Superficially, he is in competition with Ziyat Paigin, Ethan Bear and Ryan Mantha. It’s possible more than one develop and all should have a chance based on resume. None have the draft pedigree to be considered ‘sure things’ in my mind, but he has a better chance than his draft number implied.
- Who was the last CHL defender to come through the system successfully? I’ll list Brandon Davidson because Darnell Nurse barely played in the AHL. Others include Martin Marincin and Theo Peckham, depending on your definition of success.
- What makes him attractive for this roster? His foot speed and passing ability get him into the conversation and I do think mobility gives him an edge over the rest of the young group listed above.
- What is a reasonable timeline for full time NHL duty? I am predicting a quick cup of coffee this year, and maybe a little more than that in year two. It seems reasonable to suggest, if he can continue to make progress, Jones is pushing for a full time job in fall 2019. That falls in line with the lifting of NMC’s for Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell.
- What will his role be in Bakersfield? He should get a full shot at playing in the AHL this season. The LH depth chart will likely feature Ryan Stanton and Keegan Lowe, with Jones and Ziyat Paigin pushing. Two-way role, maybe some special teams minutes if he shows well.
- What one thing will get him to the NHL? Speed. You can’t teach it, it doesn’t go into slumps and it is useful on offense and defense. Jones has it. Big advantage.
- What will keep him from getting an NHL look? He has a pretty complete skill set. One thing I will say: Unlike Bear, Jones doesn’t seem to have one dominant skill, and the prevailing wisdom is that it hurts those players who don’t have one thing that stands out. I’ve always been a little skeptical, because (as an example) Denis Potvin didn’t have a dominant skill but it was of little help when you were bleeding out on the scoreboard and in actual fact.
- How many players can he reasonably be expected to pass in one winter? Man that’s the fun of this winter in Bakersfield. Ryan Stanton and Keegan Lowe are probably going to be the veteran LHD for the Condors, suspect Jones could pass both of them but we need to see how this plays out. Paigin is in the same spot and older, so we’ll see how they divide up the at-bats.