|Seth Jones is the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones. (Getty Images)|
A 6-foot-4 defenseman from the state of Texas is the No. 1-ranked player for the National Hockey League Entry Draft at the midterm, according to NHL Central Scouting Services.
Seth Jones, fresh off helping Team USA to the gold medal at the World Junior Championship, edged Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads for top honors among North American skaters from CSS. That should throw a little gas on the annual draft rivalry between the consensus top-two players.
Jones, currently skating for the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League, has been garnering hype since he was 14 years old, playing for the Dallas Junior Stars, near his hometown of Plano. The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones has a chance to be the first American selected first overall since Patrick Kane in 2007, and should he go No. 1, he will be the first African-American player to do so in NHL history.
In 33 WHL games, Jones has 28 points, and he was the second-leading scorer among defensemen at the World Juniors.
MacKinnon came in at No. 2, with Halifax teammate Jonathan Drouin earning a spot at No. 3. Both were part of Team Canada's World Junior entry, though Drouin outplayed MacKinnon for much of the tournament, even earning a promotion to Canada's top scoring line. The Halifax Duo has combined for 106 points -- 55 for MacKinnon and 51 for Drouin -- in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this year.
Sean Monahan of the Ottawa 67's and Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hunter Shinkaruk rounded out the top five among North American skaters.
The draft is also likely to have a hefty European flavor. Finnish forward Aleksander Barkov led the international rankings in the mid-term, and he could be a top-three pick come June. The burly centerman currently has 31 points in 35 games playing in Finland's top professional league with Tappara.
Swedish center Elias Lindholm, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen of Finland, Russian behemoth forward Valeri Nichushkin and Sweden's Andre Burakovsky complete the top five of the international skater rankings.
Zachary Fucale, also of the Halifax Mooseheads, led North American goalie rankings, while Juuse Saros topped the European goalie list.
All of the Central Scouting lists are available here.
The NHL Entry Draft will be held June 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, with all seven rounds being completed that day, per Renaud Lavoie of RDS.
Eye on Hockey will unveil its midseason NHL Draft Big Board on Jan. 25.