The Colorado Avalanche placed 29th overall this season. They went into the Draft lottery knowing they would get, at a minimum, a top three pick in the 51st NHL Entry Draft on June 30th in New Jersey. For once this season, the Avalanche got a lucky break and won the draft lottery. As such they will have first choice of which player they want to welcome into the Avalanche family. In this series we will look at a new player each day. Today is about the heavily favored Seth Jones.
Jones is an American defenseman who's current team is the Portland Winterhawks. The eighteen year old is already a fairly sizable guy at 6'4" and 206 pounds. He has repped Team USA numerous times and helped them win Gold. In the 2013 season he played 61 games for the Winterhawks, had 56 points and finished the season +46. In 20 playoff games he had 14 points.
Jones already has ties to the Colorado Avalanche- his father Ronald "Popeye" Jones played for the Denver Nuggets and at Joe Sakic's urging he put Seth in skating lessons - figure skating lessons- when he was five. By the age six he was playing organized hockey. By the time he was eight he was already on traveling hockey teams. In the video Popeye talks about his convo with Joe Sakic that led to Seth taking skating lessons.
Don't go thanking just Sakic though - Seth was just trying to do what every younger brother does. His older brother wanted to play hockey, so he decided he wanted to play hockey as well. Jones is also being compared to Chris Pronger - a more physical Chris Pronger. Jones isn't one to shy away form physical contact, but he isn't known to be a dirty player either.
USA Coach Phil Housley says that Seth Jones is a well-rounded player. He makes the first good pass. He's got all the fundamental tools: skating, shooting, passing who is made for todays' game.
For all the hype, he has stayed even-headed. He didn't even tell people that he was in Sports Illustrated. He currently gets a few hundred bucks a week during the season.
To hockey fans who know the intricacies of the sport, it doesn’t get much better than watching Jones make that first pass out of his own zone, or watching him skate effortlessly into the attack.
His skill level says NHL. It shouts NHL.
Which probably means goodbye, Portland.
Said Green, “I think there’s a great chance he can be in the NHL next year. It’s a big jump going from Juniors to the NHL. The ones who can do it are able to adjust their games accordingly and adapt. Knowing Seth, he can adapt.
“He’s got a great hockey mind, he skates really well for a big guy, he’s got that ‘compete’ you want. Those are the things everybody talks about and he’s got them all,’’ said Green. “Those kind of defensemen are really hard to find.’’
Jim Matheson, of the Edmonton Journal, believes that Jones will not only be picked by the Avs next year, but that he's NHL ready.
Seth Jones, the best junior hockey player on the planet, finished up his chat with a couple of TV guys, one local scribe and the Portland Winterhawks’ website staff outside the team’s dressing room Tuesday morning, looking relaxed and well-turned out in a nice blue suit and open-necked black shirt.
He didn’t look like he’d just had all his teeth pulled like some kids, who freeze in front of a camera.
Being interviewed is just one more stop on Jones’s day. Every day.
His day-timer is a little more crowded than those of most kids, and he unabashedly says he enjoys the interaction with the media. It’s not a chore, at all. Tell that to some NHLers.
The National Post looked at the risk of taking a defenseman first overall.
TSN’s talking heads increasingly describe Jones as a once-in-a-lifetime defensive prospect: a rare combination of size, skill and speed. But two things rarely, if ever, get mentioned in the conversation about the top pick:
1. Between 1990 and 2010, when defencemen was chosen first overall, it has not turned out to be the correct choice.
2. In that same period there are only two defencemen who definitely should have been chosen first overall (but were not), and one borderline case.
This isn’t to say Jones can’t buck the trend, just that it seems like a gamble to pass on a forward if you win the lottery. Don’t believe it? See for yourself (note that 2011 and 2012 were excluded because it’s way too early to judge talent from pick No. 10 onward)
Puck Daddy has an article about Seth Jones, and gives him some pretty high credit. He is one of the "once-in-a-decade" kind of player.
Some scouts describe Jones as a player who comes along only once every decade or so. There’s a reason, they say, why Shea Weber was offered that ridiculous contract by the Philadelphia Flyers last summer and that’s because defensemen who can have that kind of impact on the game are almost impossible to find. So when you have an opportunity to get one without giving up any assets or money, you pounce on it.
“It’s intriguing,” Pracey said. “We can dance around (this question) all night, but for sure there’s no question he’s a name at the top that’s being discussed and rightly so. He’s a quality player and we have quality coverage on him and we’re well aware of what we think he is as a player. We’re going to watch him down the stretch here.”
Rick Pracey has given Seth Jones a lot of praise.
"There's a lots to like [about Jones]," said Rick Pracey, Colorado's amateur scouting director. "His size and skating are two things that jump off the page and are attention-grabbers.
"But his ability to rush the puck and make decisions coming out of the defensive zone and create offence from the back end has our attention. He's an individual that brings two-way ability and size, the reach, the ability on the back end serve him well in the D-zone. He's certainly a well-rounded, two-way defenceman that is getting plenty of attention and hype at the top of the board and rightly so."