| |Ryan Jones celebrates his 16th goal of the season in Sunday's game against the Penguins (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
I must admit on trade deadline day last year when Steve Tambellini was wheeling and dealing. Myself and the rest of the media sat in a Chicago hotel lobby and were informed that the Oilers had picked Ryan Jones
up on waivers.
First off I thought shouldn't there be some kind of rule in the CBA that with all the trades for one day do we really need players picked up on waivers? Secondly I wondered what Edmonton was doing getting Jones? It was a move somewhat lost in the shuffle of d-men Lubomir Visnovsky and Steve Staios.
A year later and we know what the Oilers had in mind even if they couldn't have predicted what the winger has provided. He was originally a fifth round pick 111th overall by Minnesota and never played a game for them before being dealt to Nashville in a deal involving Marek Zidlicky. Prior to that he was a player of high regard at the NCAA level. As a senior he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Trophy as the top college player in U.S.hockey while he schooled and skated at Miami University of Ohio. Now it's our turn to be educated by Jones on what he can do at the NHL level.
On Sunday he scored his 16th goal of the season for Edmonton which is the most among the Oilers on the active roster. Even before this year's deadline and the injuries only Taylor Hall
's 22 and Dustin Penner's 21 goals would be more than the sweet 16 Jones has put up. It's not only how many but how he gets them. Nothing fancy just heads up hockey with a feverish work ethic and a knack for getting his nose dirty around the net.
He may have modern day hair but Jones is a throwback in the way he plays. He kind of reminds me of Ryan Smyth
. Can't quite score like him or deflect pucks like him but between being able to grow a flowing head of hair he keeps his game simple and effective just like 94 used to.
When he arrived in Edmonton last year he got kneed by Derek Boogard and missed 12 games. As a result he only played in 8 games. Then in camp this year he had a back problem and so he was limited in what he could do and how much he could play. This wasn't exactly a banner start to the career of Ryan Jones
in Edmonton. It made you wonder what kind of career he would even have a chance to build with the Oilers but after a slow start now he's chugging along. On this five game road trip he scored three goals.
It was on deadline day this year that Jones said his agent had initial talks with Steve Tambellini about a new deal. Jones will be a UFA July 1 and what seemed like a high price tag of 975,000 dollars a year ago when he first arrived now doesn't seem as inflated. He'll be in for a raise. How much it will be and whether he'll sign and stay with Edmonton is yet to be determined. These last four weeks of the season will help decide how much it will take for the Oilers to keep up with Ryan Jones
Author: Gene Principe