Kings sign defenseman Caleb Jones to one-year contract (AAV: $775,000)

The LA Kings have signed defenseman Caleb Jones to a one-year, two-way contract, carrying an AAV of $775,000 at the NHL level.

Jones played in 25 regular-season games last year with the Colorado Avalanche, in addition to three games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Jones split his time last year between the NHL and AHL, also logging 12 games with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, though he’s largely been an NHL regular over the last five seasons. Between his time with Edmonton, Chicago and now Colorado, Jones has played a total of 242 NHL games, totaling 55 points (14-41-55) from the blueline. An interesting signing, when considering the moves the Kings have made this summer. Add him into the mix of players with NHL experience on the backend in a potential depth role.

Instant Analysis
Jones was a capable seventh defenseman this season in Colorado. He dressed for Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against Winnipeg while Samuel Girard was out and he replaced Devon Toews in Game 4 in the second round versus Dallas. It marked the second time he’s played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, after two games in the NHL Bubble in 2020 with the Oilers. Jones is no stranger to the NHL level. He averaged over 18 minutes per game during his time with the Blackhawks but played a smaller role on contenders in Edmonton and Colorado. He originally signed with Carolina as a free agent last summer but was traded to Colorado early in the season. Jones saw time with both the NHL and AHL clubs and was reliable, with a 57-percent goalshare with the NHL club. A few days now into free agency, this is a good kind of player to add into the mix. Just can’t have enough defensemen.

Jones is a good skater with decent size. At the AHL level, there’s a productive, offensive element to his game that hasn’t come through at a similar clip at the NHL level, which is common with players on that roster bubble. Jones is reported to be a hard worker and a willing physical player. His suppression metrics were not all that strong on a weaker Chicago team but he led all Colorado defensemen to log at least 200 minutes this season in goals against per/60. He saw the majority of his defensive numbers improve with the Avalanche this season compared to Chicago, as he played on a better team with a deeper blueline.

Not looking at Caleb Jones as a competitor for Mikey Anderson, but more so for say Andreas Englund, Kyle Burroughs and Jacob Moverare. The Kings now have ten defensemen under contract who played NHL games last season. The Top-6 feels relatively locked in, with Drew Doughty, Mikey Anderson, Vladislav Gavrikov and Jordan Spence as holdovers. Brandt Clarke is expected to make the full-time jump to the NHL and Joel Edmundson was signed as a free agent and will be in the regular rotation. Jones joins the mix of blueliners who will compete for an NHL job alongside Englund, Burroughs and Moverare. The Kings wouldn’t be shy about keeping eight defensemen on the NHL roster and they also need to add veterans who can play bigger minutes at the AHL level with the Ontario Reign, as a guy like Clarke moves up. The Kings now have a wealth of options for those roles, both at the bottom of the NHL roster and the top of an NHL lineup.

From the team’s official release –

Jones, 27, split the 2023-24 season between the Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League (AHL), earning five assists (0-5=5) in 25 games for the Avalanche and six helpers (0-6=6) in 12 games with the Eagles. The 6-1, 194-pound defenseman also suited up in three Stanley Cup Playoff contests for the Avalanche.

Originally selected in the fourth round (117th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Jones has accumulated 14 goals and 55 points (14-41=55) in 242 career NHL games over parts of six seasons split between Colorado (2023-24), Chicago (2021-23) and Edmonton (2018-21). He has skated in five career Stanley Cup Playoff outings. Jones has recorded 63 points (11-52=63) in 137 career AHL games over five seasons with Colorado and Bakersfield. His best professional season came in the 2018-19 campaign with a career-best six goals and 29 points (6-23=29) in 50 games while adding three helpers in 10 Calder Cup Playoff matchups.

Prior to his professional debut, Jones spent two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) from 2013-15 where he registered 40 points (7-33=40) in 117 games between the Under-17 and Under-18 teams. Following the NTDP, Jones joined the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL) where he played in 135 games over two seasons. In his rookie season with Portland in 2015-16, Jones’ 45 assists were the most by any WHL rookie. The following year, Jones established his best personal season, totaling nine goals and 62 points (9-53=62) to lead team defensemen in scoring and placed sixth among all WHL blueliners.

A native of Arlington, Texas, Jones has won the gold medal for Team USA in all three International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) tournaments he’s participated in, including the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge (2014), Under-18 Men’s World Championship (2015) and World Junior Championship (2017). Jones’ older brother, Seth, currently plays in the NHL and is a veteran of 797 career games over 12 seasons with Chicago, Columbus and Nashville.

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