At one point last season, the Colorado Avalanche, amidst a messy slump, had fans encouraging the team to “suck for Seth.” This, of course, was an odd campaign for the team to be miserable enough to snatch themselves the top overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. At the time, Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks was projected as the top prospect available.
Come draft night, the Avalanche decided against drafting Jones first overall. And then the Florida Panthers passed. Same with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Luckily for Jones, the plummet stopped at the fourth pick, as he was eventually selected by the Nashville Predators.
Jones would like those teams who passed on him to know he’s out to make you look really stupid this year.
Over the weekend, Jones spoke with NHL.com while participating in the prospect tournament and claimed one of his goals for this season is to make the Avalanche, Panthers, and Lightning “regret not taking me.” Playing the Panthers prospects Friday night made the mission even more meaningful.
“Yeah, in the back of my head it did a little bit,” Jones said. “But you’ve got to put that stuff behind you. You’ve got to think team first, and obviously I’m not a selfish player in any way, so I’m not going to do anything to prove myself to them. I’m just going to play hockey out there.”
The young American defenseman didn’t score any points, but he did display many of the characteristics that made him a popular name during draft season. His skating was smooth, he handled the puck with finesse and looks like he has a slap shot that goalies are going to eventually fear. His bosses certainly left the game impressed with their pick.
“Seth played very well,” said Nashville assistant general manager Paul Fenton. “Certainly you can see his elite thought process and talent and ability to escape under pressure. I think he’s going to be just a terrific player for us.”
One thing is for sure; of the four teams that had a chance at him, he has the best chance to compete with Nashville. Last year wasn’t pretty, but they’re also just one year removed from playoff contention. And if you’re a defenseman who is trying to be elite in the league, there aren’t many mentors you could ask for that are better than new teammate Shea Weber. When you’ve got an NHL All-Star to teach you the finer points of life in the league, it’s one heck of an advantage.
Nobody is going to make a game-changing moment at a prospects tournament. However, Jones wants to put everyone on notice that he’s a man on a mission this year. A successful mission for him will translate very positively for the Predators.