ColoradoAvalanche.com will look at some of the top draft-eligible prospects in the week leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft. The top three North American skaters and the top two European skaters according to NHL Central Scouting's final rankings will be profiled. Next up is the No. 1 ranked North American skater, Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks.
A defenseman with will and skill, Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks has it all.
While his hockey sense and vision on the ice has helped propel him to the top of many draft boards, it is his elite handling of the puck – both offensively and defensively – that sets him apart from other defensemen. With his confident playing style and dangerous slap shot, Jones would add value to any NHL team that selects him.
“Seth has a very good understanding of the game and his position. He inherited an athletic pedigree from his father, former NBA player Popeye Jones,” said Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting. “He’s been a winner at every level that he’s played. He’s one of those few players that scouts can say, 'You know, we think this guy’s got potential to be a real game changer.'”
Jones – who considers the Dallas area as his hometown but started playing hockey in the Denver suburbs – was ranked as NHL Central Scouting’s top North American skater in the services' final rankings in the end of April.
Leading all Western Hockey League rookie defensemen in points during the 2012-13 season, Jones recorded 56 points (14g/42a) in 61 games with the Winterhawks and had an impressive plus/minus rating of plus-46. He was named the WHL Rookie of the Year (Jim Piggott Award) and helped Portland to the Ed Chynoweth Cup as the WHL champions.
In the WHL playoffs, Jones logged another 15 points (5g/10a) in 21 games and had a plus-15 rating. He helped lead the Winterhawks to the Memorial Cup championship game, where they eventually lost 6-4 to the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
On the international stage, Jones represented the United States at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, helping the U.S. to their third gold medal with a 3-1 win over Sweden.
At the 2012 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, Jones helped Team USA bring back its fourth consecutive gold medal. He tallied three goals and five assists in six games, including an assist in the final contest that helped the Americans defeat Finland 7-0.
Before being a member of the Winterhawks, Jones was a member of the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program – a team that competes in the United States Hockey League and against Division I and III college opponents, as well as international teams. He served as co-captain during the 2011-12 campaign and finished second among defensemen on the team with 31 points.
The Mind Of An Athlete, Not Just The Body
It's no secret that Seth Jones inherited his athletic physique from his father, former NBA player Ronald “Popeye” Jones, but his large build wasn’t the only thing the basketball star passed down to his son.
In an interview with NHL.com, Jones talked about what his father has taught him as he navigates his professional career.
“The number one thing he probably teaches me is just to keep your head on straight. You can’t get too high or too low during a season,” said Jones. “He was a thinker when he played and I think I’m a thinker as well. I like to think the game and watch video of the game and learn.”
During road trips, his father stayed mentally sharp by playing chess instead of video games. He used his knowledge of chess to help Jones be a better hockey player.
"Control the middle of the ice the way you control the middle of the board and think two or three moves ahead of everyone," the elder Jones said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. "See what board awareness does? Learn ice awareness."
Highlights From His 2012-13 Season:
- CHL Top Draft Prospect Award
- CHL Top Prospects Game
- WHL Rookie of the Year (Jim Piggott Award)
- WHL champion with Portland (Ed Chynoweth Cup)
- Under-20 World Junior Championship gold medal
- Most assists by a defenseman at Under-20 World Junior Championship (6)
Did You Know?
- Jones was the first Winterhawks player to win WHL Rookie of the Year since Braydon Coburn in 2001-02. He joins Marian Hossa, Todd Robinson, Dennis Holland, Davie Waldie and Keith Brown as other Portland players to win the award all-time.
- If Jones is picked first overall in the NHL Draft, it would mark the first time an American has been picked in the No. 1 spot since Patrick Kane in 2007.
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