Battalion Breakdown is a closer look at the Blue Jackets' past season on a player-by-player basis. Today, BlueJackets.com continues the series by looking at Seth Jones' season and how it impacted Columbus in the 2018-19 campaign.
Birth date: Oct. 3, 1994
Height/Weight: 6-4, 201
Stats (Games, G-A-P, point shares): 75 GP, 9-37-46, 7.5 PS
Contract: Signed through 2021-22
If Seth Jones spends the entire rest of his career with the Blue Jackets, to say he'll go down as a franchise legend almost seems like an understatement.
Of course, there's a long way to go -- he has three seasons left on his current deal -- but Jones has all the makings of one of the dominant, iconic players in the NHL.
For the past two seasons, he's been a top-10 player in the Norris Trophy voting, and there isn't a team in the NHL that wouldn't love to have Jones -- an elite defensive zone presence with excellent offensive game, the ability to play in all situations, and the professionalism to serve as one of the faces of the franchise.
For the foreseeable future, the three-time All-Star should go into each season as one of the top players in the NHL. That's the kind of thing that should excite Blue Jackets fans for years to come.
Entering the season: Jones survived a scare in the preseason, as he suffered a lower-body injury during the team's Kraft Hockeyville game in Clinton, N.Y., during the exhibition campaign. It would cost him the first seven games of the 2018-19 season, but Jones was still expected to be, simply put, one of the best defensemen in the NHL. He had finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting in 2017-18 and with a good season was expected to contend for the crown as a 24-year-old.
What happened: It wasn't always smooth sailing for Jones -- he took a few games to get his sea legs back upon returning to the lineup, and he had an uncharacteristic bobble in his level of play as the season hit March -- but there's little arguing the statement he was again one of the top blueliners in the league.
Jones finished ninth in the Norris Trophy voting, returned to the All-Star Game for the third straight year, placed fourth in the NHL in time on ice (25:49) and ranked tied for 15th among league defensemen with 46 points.
On the team, he finished second in assists and fifth in points while leading all defensemen in scoring. Jones added a team-best 133 shot blocks and was a key piece of both the power play and penalty kill.
To many across the league, Jones took another huge step in the postseason when he had a 3-6-9 line in 10 playoff games vs. Tampa Bay and Boston. He was a critical piece of helping shut down Tampa Bay's big guns in the opening sweep of the Bolts, and his body positioning, physical play and excellent breakout passes were all on full display as he skated more than 28 minutes per game on average in the postseason while the eyes of the NHL were on the Blue Jackets.
When asked if he felt he took a big step forward in the postseason, Jones said. "I'm not sure. That's more for you guys to decide than me."
"I just try to go out there every night and be the best player I can, and individually I thought I grew in the postseason," he added. "Obviously with more postseason experience as a player you grow in this situation. I love playing under pressure and those big moments under the lights, so yeah I had a lot of fun. It sucks the way it ended but individually I thought I did some good things."
One of Jones' best games this year came Dec. 6 at Philadelphia, as the defenseman scored twice in the 4-3 overtime win vs. the Flyers. Jones also had the game winner -- the overtime goal, after all, has become his specialty -- and it came just 10 seconds into the extra period. After Cam Atkinson won a battle for the puck along the wall, he fed Jones entering the zone with speed, and his picture-perfect wrist shot went top corner and clinched the two points for the CBJ.
Video: Jones, Blue Jackets take down Flyers in overtime, 4-3
By the Numbers
3: Jones tied for third in the NHL with three overtime goals. He was one of 11 players in the league with three, and just 13 players overall got to three or more OT tallies. Jones is the only defenseman on that list.
39: With 39 goals in his Blue Jackets career, Jones is tied for third all-time in CBJ career annals in goals scored by defensemen. He is one behind teammate David Savard (40) and one ahead of Zach Werenski (38). Rostislav Klesla (41) holds a franchise record that seemingly won't last very long into 2019.
1: Jones played below 20 minutes in exactly one game during the season: The finale at Ottawa, when, with a CBJ playoff spot clinched, he skated for 19:56.