Seth Jones looks to debunk the sophomore slump stigma. All while waving the American flag, and riding an eagle that breathes fire. America!
There is a lot expected of Seth Jones this year. He had a good rookie season and is expected to build on it. In all reality though, what can we really expect from him? Maybe we will see more goals like this, or maybe we will see missteps in his game. If you look solely at his numbers from last year, it's easy to think he had a mediocre season. Is that completely his fault though? Or was he just a victim of a non-possession, grind it out system? My gut feeling is to go with the latter.
The stats (courtesy of Hockey Analysis) seem to help back that theory up. The Predators ranked in the bottom half of the league in almost all the offensive categories. They ranked 17th in Fenwick For as a team and 18th in Corsi For. To top it all off, they ranked 22nd in offensive zone face off percentage (30.8%), 5th in defensive zone face off percentage (33.9%), and 28th in neutral zone face off percentage (35.3%). If you look at his even strength individual stats, he had a positive Fenwick For per 20 minutes last season, and a good offensive zone start percentage (50.6%). The potential and talent are there, but that stat changes drastically when they are playing from behind, or shorthanded. Which was the case for most of the season last year.
Most people would look at his -23 +/- and assume that he just didn't make the right plays at the right time. I see it as, he was just on a team that couldn't score goals. He only had 25 points for the season, but that was partly due to the fact that the Predators had few (if any) top-six forwards last year. Let's be honest, he would be better off just passing the puck off to Weber and letting him fire away. Jones will definitely have more to work with this year. He will most likely play along side the likes of Derek Roy, Olli Jokinen, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Viktor Stalberg, and Calle Jarnkrok. So I guess now the question is, what can we expect for him this season?
Best Case Scenario
Jones becomes a dominant force both defensively and offensively. With that, he finds a way to build on a good rookie year and become great all around player. He improves from 25 points (6G-19A), to 40 point range. All while overtaking Roman Josi as the second best defenseman on the team, and starts playing on the line with Shea Weber. He will start to play against other team's top lines, and be shut down while doing so.
Worst Case Scenario
The sophomore slump. The dreaded second year that hits a lot of talented young players after a solid rookie season. He struggles to grasp playing with a new line mate (Volchenkov most likely) and has trouble finding his identity in a new system and with a new coach. Minor injuries will plague him, keeping him from getting into a rhythm throughout the season. At the very worst? He ends up spending time in the minors to find his groove again.
Seth Jones will lead all Preds' defensemen in goals this season.
The bald eagle, duh. A true American at heart and soon to be American hero for team USA in the future. The bald eagle only seems fitting for this young patriot.
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