The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed center and 2005 draft pick Blair Jones to a standard three-year, entry-level contract, Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster announced.
"Blair Jones had a very solid year in junior hockey last season and both we and he are of the opinion that there is nothing more for him to be gained by returning for an overage year," Feaster said. "We believe it is important for him to get started on his professional career. Blair plays a position at which we are not particularly deep and thus we want to do everything we can to fast-track his development and see how he handles the pro game. Thus far, he has demonstrated an ability to finish and very good offensive hockey sense."
Jones, a 6-foot-2, 193-pound native of Central Butte, Saskatchewan, played in 72 games for the Moose Jaw Warriors in 2005-06. He finished the season third on the team in points with 85 and goals with 35. His 14 power play goals led the team and he ranked second in assists with 50 as he helped his team to the Western Hockey League's East Division title. Jones also ranked sixth in the league in points and tied for fifth in assists. He also appeared in 22 playoff games with Moose Jaw and led the team with 21 points. During the postseason he was tied for the team lead with 12 assists and ranked second with nine goals. He ranked second in the league in playoff scoring, third in goals and fourth in assists.
Jones, 19, has played in 249 career games in the WHL with Moose Jaw and the Red Deer Rebels. He scored 61 goals and handed out 112 assists during his junior career. He appeared in 56 playoff games and scored 13 goals while tallying 35 points. His team made the postseason in each of his four WHL seasons.
Jones ranked in the top three on the Warriors in scoring and led the team in playoff scoring in each of the previous two seasons.
Jones was selected by the Lightning in the fourth round, 102nd overall, at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.