EDMONTON, AB - To Caleb Jones, a new two-year extension is a sign that his hard work is being recognized.
But there's still plenty to be done.
"It feels good," Jones said following Thursday's practice. "I think any time an organization shows confidence in you like that investing for a couple of years into the future, it's huge."
The 22-year-old received his new extension on Wednesday from Oilers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Ken Holland as a showing of good faith that his improvements on the defensive side of the puck as a young blueliner looking to take strides in the NHL are proving noticeable.
Video: RAW | Caleb Jones 01.16.20
"He likes my game," Jones said. "He's talking to me and said it's kind of a good way to show that I'm part of their future plans and they're excited about me as a player, and to keep going and keep making sure I focus on the defensive side of my game. Everything else will take care of itself."
The Arlington, Texas product has chipped in with three assists in 23 games with the Oilers this campaign, with his play in the defensive end being his biggest area of improvement.
"I think I've been better defensively this year," Jones said. "I think I've maybe had a little bit less of offensive success than I would like, but the main focus has been trying to build from my own zone out. Giving up a little bit of that offensive flair that I've sometimes been able to show at this level and trying to really focus on being a good solid player has helped me out a lot this year."
Injuries on the blue line from the first game of the season thrusted Jones into the fold, and Head Coach Dave Tippett immediately utilized the left-show d-man's ability to play on both sides.
Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 01.16.20
"He continues to grow with the experience and is becoming a better and better defender," Tippett said. "I like the flexibility of him. He can play right and left side. I would actually rather see the defencemen play on their regular sides, but having someone that has the flexibility is a strong attribute to have. He has that, and the thing I like about him is he's a young player and still willing to learn."
The list of learning opportunities only grows for Jones from here on out. To Tippett, it's no time to let his foot off the gas pedal.
"You recognize you've got to relax and play better, but not relax and say 'I've made it.' There's still lots growing left to do," Tippett said.
"He's a young player that will continue to get better, but in his mind he should be thinking he's taken a step. Now it's about earning the right to the next contract and being a regular NHL player contributing in a position that's hard to play."