Sunday, May 29, 2011

On Ryan Jones and the Value of Cogs

Ryan Jones was claimed off waivers by the Edmonton Oilers from the Nashville Predators at the 2010 trade deadline in what has turned out to be one of Steve Tambellini's more adept moves as GM. Jones scored 14-14-28 in 87 games in the NHL over two seasons for the Preds before coming over to the Oilers. While he only scored 1 goal in 8 games to close out the season, he showed his heart and committment to the team by quickly returning to the lineup following a 2nd degree MCL tear suffered in a knee on knee collision. Most players who suffered that type of injury in the final month of the season on the 30th place team would likely have called it a year.

Jones had a career year for the Oilers in 2010-2011 scoring 18-7-25 while appearing in 81 games and playing a large role on the penalty kill. Jones demonstrated an ability to generate offence at even strength and brought a physical element to the game, which was obviously an area of weakness on the skilled yet undersized Oilers roster. Steve Tambellini rewarded Jones' efforts today with a new 2 year NHL contract. While the dollars are yet to be released, I would expect it to be in the range of 1.5M per year. Jones will now have to prove that he can carry over his strong play, and that last season was not just that of another player having a breakout in a contract year. The two year term is a good number for both the Oilers and Jones, as the player gets some security and the Oilers maintain flexibility when it comes time to re-sign Hall, Eberle, and Paajarvi. No doubt that was in the back of Tambellini's mind after seeing what happened to the Chicago Blackhawks and their cap troubles last summer. Nonetheless, in a time when the Oilers have had difficulty attracting players, it's nice to see one opt against free agency to stick with the OIL.

The question that is raised now is what is the value of Andrew Cogliano compared to Ryan Jones? Both players play a 3rd line role, feature on the penalty kill, and will score somewhere in the range of 10-20 goals a season. Last year Jones and Cogliano earned a comparable salary in the range of 1M. However, Cogliano played more minutes (17:15 vs. 13:50 TOI/g including comparable time on the PP but more on the PK at 2:43 vs. 2:07 SH TOI/g), outscored Jones at 11-24-35, and appeared in all 82 games. The curious thing is that despite this, Jones seems to be considered more valuable than Cogliano among the fan base. More often than not it's Cogliano's name that is brought up when trade rumors start circling in OIL country. This season Cogliano demonstrated a willingness to adapt his game and worked hard to turn himself into a two-way forward, while still being able to generate offense 5 on 5. While he lacks the size of Jones, Cogliano brings the element of speed and versatility. So when it comes time for Tambellini to negotiate his new deal, what is the salary range they'll be looking at? Last season the Oilers offered Gilbert Brule a 2 year 3.7M contract after only one year of scoring 17-20-37, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Cogliano camp uses that as a comparable to start negotiations and end up signing somewhere in that range. That is of course if he's still an Oiler after the draft.

*UPDATE: Dustin Nielson (@nielson1260) just tweeted the cap hit on Jones is 1.5M
*UPDATE2: Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) also confirmed the Jones contract details via twitter

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