In a day full of seismic moves, this may be the biggest.
The Chicago Blackhawks swung a massive deal on Friday evening, acquiring Seth Jones, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2021 sixth-round pick in exchange for Adam Boqvist, a 2021 first-round pick, a 2021 second-round pick, and a 2022 first-round pick.
Jones, who has one year remaining on his current contract, will reportedly sign a nine-year, $85.5 million contract extension worth an average annual value of $9.5 million when he becomes eligible on July 28th.
And the draft hasn't even begun yet.
The Blackhawks had been linked to Jones for weeks now, with those rumors only intensifying after the team acquired his brother, Caleb in the Duncan Keith trade last week.
Now, the siblings are reunited in the Windy City.
Jones is somewhat of a confounding player to evaluate when taking his entire career into account. For the most part, the Texas-native has performed as a solid top-four defenceman throughout his eight NHL seasons, albeit not quite topping out as the top-pair option many perceive him to be.
Then came last season, which can only be characterized as a disaster. Jones fall off a cliff in nearly every statistical category in 2021, producing his lowest point total in six years on a terrible Blue Jackets team while looking completely lost in his own zone and failing entirely to drive the play. After paying a truly eye-popping price for the 26-year-old, the Blackhawks are clearly banking on Jones' most recent stretch of play being an aberration.
That, however, is quite an expensive risk to take, both from a financial and asset standpoint.
Despite Jones coming off by far the worst season of his entire career, the Blue Jackets still managed to gouge Stan Bowman & co. for a truly decadent package. The draft picks are one thing. But prying away Adam Boqvist, a promising 20-year-old right-shot defender and former top-ten pick, in the process is the type of heist that usually only gets carried out by George Clooney and ten of his most attractive friends.
And then there's the extension, the crown jewel of it all.
Even if Jones did return to his form of years past, handing him $9.5 million per year for almost the entire coming decade is a gross overpayment of the highest order. And that might even be sugarcoating it, frankly.
Jones, who has dealt with injuries numerous times throughout his career, will see his new deal run until he's 37. Even the healthiest professional athlete tends to decline as they approach age 30, let alone one with an extensive injury history who plays demanding minutes at arguably his sport's most physical position. That's not exactly an enticing ageing curve.
What the Blackhawks essentially did this evening was pay a premium for a player sitting at arguably his lowest value ever, and then immediately hand him a contract that nothing in his eight NHL seasons has ever suggested he's worth.
And thus continues a truly confounding day of trades involving defencemen.