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Jones gets six-year contract from Blue Jackets

Defenseman 'had no thoughts of signing with another team'

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- Defenseman Seth Jones signed a six-year, $32.4 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.

Jones' contract numbers were confirmed by his agent, Pat Brisson.

Coming off an entry-level contract he signed with the Nashville Predators after being the fourth pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, Jones could have become a restricted free agent Friday.

"I had no thoughts of signing with another team," Jones said. "I really wanted to get something done before [Friday]. The longer you drag it out, the more it maybe becomes a problem in the locker room."

Jones was traded to Columbus by Nashville for center Ryan Johansen on Jan. 6. He had 31 points (three goals, 28 assists) in 81 games this season, including two goals and 18 assists in 41 games with the Blue Jackets. He has 83 points (17 goals, 66 assists) in 240 NHL games.

Video: Chatting with Jarmo Kekalainen on Seth Jones

Jones averaged 24:27 of ice time with Columbus, almost five minutes more than he did in Nashville.

"We're very happy to be done with this [signing]," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "Everybody speculated on our [NHL salary-cap] room, but we had ways around it if somebody wanted to get silly (with an offer sheet). We just wanted to get Seth signed.

"We feel he's a huge part of the young core we believe in into the future."

By the time the Blue Jackets begin next season against the Boston Bruins at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 13, their top two defensive pairings could include Jones (22), Ryan Murray (24) and rookie Zach Werenski (19), along with David Savard (25).

"All three of us understand where Zach is and how that feels as an 18-, 19-year-old coming into the NHL," Jones said, "so we're going to have to help him along with that. It's going to be a special backline."

The Blue Jackets finished 27th in the NHL with a 34-40-8 record, but Jones remains optimistic.

"I really like it in Columbus," he said. "I'm very happy with the team we're putting together here and the potential is so high. It's definitely a place I want to play.

"We didn't have the season we wanted, but at the same time we can only go up. I love the core. We have a bunch of young guys. We're going to continue to learn through this process. I truly believe in my teammates and when we play like the way we can, we're very capable of being a winning team."

Video: Blue Jackets sign D Jones; Implications for Trouba?

The Blue Jackets said goodbye Wednesday to one of their longest tenured players when they bought out the final two seasons of defenseman Fedor Tyutin's contract worth $4.5 million each season.

Tyutin, 32, played 553 games for the Blue Jackets, second behind Rick Nash (674), since being acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on July 2, 2008. Only forward Jared Boll preceded Tyutin on Columbus' roster.

"To know the number we have for Seth is obviously a big dea,l and now we can know and calculate what moves we need to make from now on into the season," Kekalainen said of the buyout. "That's the unpleasant part of the business. This needs to be done for our flexibility and plans for the future."

With Tyutin's departure, Columbus is about $5 million below the $73 million NHL salary cap for next season.

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