He might not go first overall as previously expected, but Seth Jones will remain one of the NHL Entry Draft's great stories on Sunday no matter what slot he's selected in.
A Texas-born son of a former NBA player, Seth Jones is a child of the NHL's expansion. While living in Denver as his father, Popeye Jones, played for the Nuggets, Seth took to the game while watching the Avalanche in its glory years.
In fact, Popeye Jones sought out then-Avalanche captain Joe Sakic for advice on how to get his sons started in hockey. The Colorado legend told the elder Jones to get them into skating classes, since he figured they grow up to be large individuals.
Now Jones enters the draft as the best American-born prospect since Patrick Kane and likely the best draft-eligible defenseman since Drew Doughty. He might not go No. 1, as his favorite team from his childhood has said they'll be taking a forward, but it is hard to see Jones fall past No. 2 and the Florida Panthers unless some sort of trade is made.
His backstory and talent will make him a popular player and story before he ever steps on an NHL ice sheet.
The Seth Jones File
Height: 6-4 Weight: 208
Team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Stats: 61 GP, 14-42—56
CBS: 1; CSS: 1; ISS: 2; HP: 3; TSN: TBD
- Son of former NBA player and current Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Popeye Jones.
- Finished fourth among all WHL defensemen with 56 points this season.
- Helped the Portland Winterhawks win the WHL's regular-season and postseason titles in 2013.
- Was a big part of the U.S. National Junior Team's gold-medal victory at the 2013 World Junior Championship. He had seven points to finish second among all defensemen in the tournament.
- Before playing in Portland, played at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, which has produced the likes of Kane, Phil Kessel, Erik Johnson and Ryan Suter.
- Won two gold medals at the World Under-18 Championship, captaining the team in 2012.
- One of only six American men to win three gold medals in International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship events (2011 and 2012 World Under-18 and 2013 World Junior).
- Peters' Scouting Report: The single-biggest reason why Jones has been at the top of our board all season is this: rarity. It is very rare for a defenseman like him to come along. He thinks the game at an elite level, has added more offense to his top-end defensive game and skates well. At times has the ability to take a game over, which is hard for a defenseman to do. He's the best story in the draft but, more importantly, he is the best player.
- Best Highlight: Early this season, Jones scored one of the finest goals that you'll see from a defenseman on a beautiful end-to-end rush against the Everett Silvertips.
* Rankings key: CBS = Eye on Hockey Big Board, CSS = NHL Central Scouting Services, ISS = International Scouting Services, HP = Hockey Prospectus, TSN = Bob McKenzie's final draft rankings.