Seth Jones, the son of basketball’s Popeye Jones and a recent gold medalist at the 2013 World Junior Championship, is sitting pretty atop the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings of prospects.
When he’s not representing his country and taking home the top prize, Jones plays for the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL. In 33 games played so far this season out in Portland, the Texas native has scored eight goals and added 20 assists–not bad for a defenseman. It also mirrors his performance in Ufa, Russia recently, where he had a goal and six assists in seven games played as part of an American defensive corps that was just as good at scoring as it was at defending. Plus, he was the youngest player on the team.
Before Portland, Jones spent two years in the U.S. National Team Development Program, a big part of developing America’s budding hockey talent. Now he’s earning high praise from Central Scouting.
“Seth is a big, rangy defenseman who has a nice command of his shifts,” B.J. MacDonald of Central Scouting said. “He has the ability to be a game-changer because he has good instincts and awareness. He’s an underrated passer, possesses solid one-on-one play and can skate the puck out of danger at any time. He’s already the complete package, but I get the feeling he still has another gear to go to.”
If Jones does go first overall at the draft–which will have all seven rounds held on the same day, June 30, this year–it would be the first time a defenseman goes first since Erik Johnson in 2006. He would also be the first American number one pick since Patrick Kane in 2007 and the first ever black player to go first overall.
Jones doesn’t really take note of that last distinction.
“It would mean a lot, but me and my family have never been into the race thing … whether you’re white or black it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “Going No. 1 is special. But I could see why that is a big deal around the world. It’s just that I never really thought about that kind of stuff.”
Two forwards who are widely expected to be among the top picks, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, are second and third respectively in the midterm rankings. Both of them played in the World Junior Championship for Canada.
These rankings may shift slightly before the final versions are released ahead of the draft. Only time will tell what will happen to Jones, MacKinnon, Drouin and other top prospects.