Seth Jones said he was initially surprised to hear that he was traded by Nashville, but the surprise quickly changed to anticipation and excitement.
A new opportunity, a larger role, more ice time. A chance to spread his wings and become the player he knew he could be. He was all-in.
“It’s been a pretty eventful year, to say the least,” Jones said. “When I got here, I knew I was going to be in a larger role and that’s something I really looked forward to. I understand we have a young core on this team, but I’m very excited for the future and we’re going to be a lot better next year.”
Jones said one of the most challenging things for him in his increased role on the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 defensive pairing was properly managing his ice time and his energy.
“Going from 17, 18 minutes to 24, 25 is a pretty big jump right away,” Jones said. “I didn’t have a problem with the minutes at all, but you definitely have to manage them a bit more. You can’t be jumping into the play every single shift.
"I was playing against better competition as well defensively, so I had to buckle down a little bit more defensively as well against some of the top guys in the league.”
Since arriving Columbus on Jan. 6, Jones scored at a 40-point pace (two goals, 18 assists in 41 games) after only 11 points in 40 games with Nashville.
The 21-year-old said that playing alongside an intelligent hockey player like Ryan Murray helped ease his transition.
“He’s extremely smart,” Jones said of Murray. “He never puts me in a bad position out there and we seem to work pretty well together.”
Jones said that at first, it took a few games to adjust to the new systems in Columbus and to the playing style of his defensive partner. But after he and Murray became familiar with one another, the adjustment period was over and it became a pairing that was difficult to split up.
“The first few games I got here, I was telling him to just push me around and tell me where to go,” Jones said. “I don’t think we were using each other great in the first few games, which was expected and we both knew that. After that, I think we both did a great job together. We were communicating very well out there and I enjoyed playing with him a lot.”
What will Jones be doing now that the Blue Jackets season has officially come to a close? Training and working on self-improvement.
“I’m going to be in the weight room like I am every summer,” Jones said. “I’m going to be training hard there. I’m probably going to start skating in early July. I want to work on some things; your shot can always get harder, you can always skate a little bit better, go faster, so I plan on working on my all-around game.”
In addition to pre-planned offseason preparation, Jones will be working toward what is expected to be a tough training camp run by Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella. And despite the camp's rumored difficulty, Jones is looking forward to it.
“I just kind of want to start from fresh here (during training camp),” Jones said. “It’s weird just jumping in. I did half a season there, half a season here so it’ll be nice to get a full season in and start right from camp with everyone.”