Seth Jones said he’ll be back at his best with the Chicago Blackhawks this season.
“By no means have I hit my peak [yet],” Jones said Saturday. “I can hopefully play in all situations, power play, penalty kill, and do a good job for the team. Really, whatever the coach asks me to do I want to do to make this team better. It’s really my goal.”
The Blackhawks acquired Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Adam Boqvist and three draft picks, including the No. 12 selection of the 2021 NHL Draft, on Friday. Jones has one year remaining on the six-year, $32.4 million contract ($5.4 million annual average value) he signed June 29, 2016.
“I think, offensively, I can get a little bit better,” Jones said. “I’ve been focusing on that the past few summers. When I get chances to put the puck in the net, to capitalize on those opportunities. I really try to hunker down on when to go and try to find little areas, soft areas that I can make more offensive plays happen.”
The No. 4 pick by the Nashville Predators in the 2013 NHL Draft, Jones has scored 286 points (65 goals, 221 assists) in 580 NHL games with the Predators and Blue Jackets. He had 28 points (five goals, 23 assists) in 56 games this season with the Blue Jackets, but was minus-18, the lowest of his NHL career since he was minus-23 as a rookie with the Predators in 2013-14.
Jones said he’s not concerned with criticism about his play this season.
“I mean, you have to just roll with them,” he said. “There’s always going to be critics in your game, and you can choose not to listen, you can choose to listen. Some of them are wrong, some of them aren’t. I’ll be the first one to say that. I just want to prove every single night that I’m going to work hard for this team, no matter if I make a mistake or not. More times than not I’m hoping to be successful in the plays I make and the consistency I bring and the leadership I bring every night.”
Jones arrived in Chicago on Saturday with his brother Caleb, who the Blackhawks acquired from the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Duncan Keith and forward prospect Tim Soderlund on July 12. They each threw out a first pitch prior to the Chicago Cubs-Arizona Diamondbacks game at Wrigley Field before taking a cruise on the Chicago River.
Caleb Jones scored 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in 93 games with the Oilers, who selected him in the fourth round (No. 117) in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Seth, 26, and Caleb, 24, never played against each other on any level and are looking forward to being teammates for the first time.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Caleb Jones said. “I think obviously growing up together, we both dreamed of playing in the NHL and your mindset of just trying to get there. It never really crosses your mind that once you both get there, you might have the opportunity to play together. It’s going to be really fun and I’m looking forward to getting it going.”
Seth Jones said it was time for a fresh start and the Blackhawks had what he was looking for.
“I think the history of the organization, trusting Stan (Bowman, Blackhawks GM) and the staff to do a good job of putting teams together, having an opportunity to play with a couple of Hall of Famers (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews). The whole package,” he said. “I love coming to Chicago, it’s a great city, great sports town. I’ve always dreamt about playing in this city, so I’m extremely happy I’m finally in a Blackhawks jersey.”