The Edmonton Oilers re-signed forward Ryan Jones on Sunday. OilersNation and Twitter has it that the deal is for two years at $3 million, which would mean a cap hit of a million and a half per year. That's maybe a little bit more than many Oilers analysts would have liked (the number being floated was $1.3M per) but there's a certain premium that must be paid for the fact that it's only a two year deal. Players want some job security just like everyone else, but Jones' performance in 2010-11, while solid, was still only one year. It didn't merit getting tied down to a player for three or more years, so the Oilers had to cough up a little more money.
This contract is probably somewhere around fair market value for Jones. The Oilers didn't overpay, but they didn't exactly get a hometown discount either. There's no particular reason that they should, really, except that the Oilers are the first NHL team to give Jones a legitimate shot. Then again, Jones played well enough to merit a decent raise. The length of time that passed between the beginning of negotiations on the Jones contract and the time it was actually signed leads one to believe that there was a bit of a gap between the two sides that was finally bridged today.
The Oilers are now secure on the left wing for at least the next two seasons (assuming that Paajarvi continues to develop as planned). 18 goals is still 18 goals, but it's a number that Jones will be hard-pressed to repeat. His drive, exuberance, and love of scoring is truly something to behold, and it means that Jones will likely do his best to live up to the new pact. However, his shooting percentage of 14.3% was tied for first on the team, which means that Jones is a player who had a lot of puck luck this year. Scoring another 18 goals will be tough, especially if the Oilers somehow manage to ice a healthy roster for the majority of the 2011-12 season.
But Jones brings more to the table that just statistics. He's a capable and energetic penalty killer already, and as he continues to hone that skill he could end up being very good in that regard. The Oilers' top-six is all but set going forward, but there is a dearth of high end bottom six players on the team at the moment. If the penalty kill is ever going to improve - or keep up with the best in the league - it's going to have to start with players like Jones.
Here's hoping he's up to the task.