The Chicago Blackhawks on Friday acquired veteran defenseman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and sources said they will sign him to an eight-year extension with an average annual value of $9.5 million.
The Blackhawks also received the Blue Jackets' first-round pick (No. 32 overall, used to pick defenseman Nolan Allan) in Friday night's draft, as well as their sixth-rounder in 2022.
"Acquiring Seth Jones has been on our wish list for years it has seemed," general manager Stan Bowman told ESPN. "It never was a possibility until somewhat recently."
Columbus, meanwhile, brings on defenseman Adam Boqvist in the trade, as well as Chicago's first- and second-round picks in this year's draft and a first-rounder in 2022 (if it's the No. 1 or 2 overall selection, it will convey to a first-round pick in the 2023 draft). It used the first-rounder Friday to take center Cole Sillinger of the USHL.
Jones, 26, had been in the final year of a six-year, $32.4 million contract that paid him $5.4 million annually. He told the Blue Jackets he wanted to test free agency next summer, which instigated a trade.
When a story came out a few months ago that Jones did not want to re-sign in Columbus, Bowman said his first call was to Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen.
Bowman said "players like (Jones) only come on the marketplace rarely," and the Blackhawks wanted to strike at the opportunity.
"We've been planning for this move for a couple years," Bowman told ESPN. "We wanted to obtain an elite defenseman, which is key to being a top team in the league. It took a long time, a lot of phone calls."
In 381 career NHL games, Jones has scored 50 goals and 173 assists while averaging more than 24 minutes a night. He finished fourth in Norris Trophy voting in 2018.
Jones carried a 10-team no-trade list.
Bowman said "it probably didn't hurt for Caleb to sign with us" but noted it was not the deciding factor for Jones wanting to sign long term in Chicago.
"Seth, he's the real deal, he brings everything to the table for us," Bowman said. "He's entering the prime of his career. It changes the whole complexion of our team, the complexion of defense in particular. It's a huge step forward for our defense and our team and a long time in the making. We're really for this."
Bowman said "nothing changes" in terms of the team's plan to rebuild.
"We're not deviating from our course," the GM said. "If you ever have a chance to accelerate your team's rebuild, and make an improvement like this, you have to."
Jones is expected to be a strong candidate for the 2022 U.S. Olympic team, should the NHL and NHLPA complete a deal with the IOC for NHL players to return after skipping the 2018 Olympics. Bowman is the GM of Team USA.