Here's what we know about Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones. He's not only No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft, but was regarded as the consensus first pick in three mock drafts conducted by NHL.com staffers. We also know Jones takes great pride in his skating and powerful shot, in addition to his propensity to transition quickly. "I think your ability to move the puck quickly and overall skating are the two most important qualities you need to have as an NHL defenseman today," Jones told NHL.com. He can create offense, as evidenced by his 56 points in 61 regular-season games this season, his first in the Western Hockey League, and he also has been praised for his ability to consistently shut down top opposition forwards. "He skates as well as anyone in the league, is smart and has all the potential there is to becoming one of the top [defensemen] in the NHL one day," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told NHL.com. The late Tim Taylor, who served as USA Hockey director of player personnel for the gold medal-winning United States National Junior Team at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, was asked to assess Jones following the team's three-day selection camp last December. Taylor's coaching resume includes a historic 28-year run as coach at Yale University, in addition to coaching at many international events. "I'm kind of speechless," Taylor told NHL.com when asked to dissect Jones' game. "He's got that wonderful combination of athletic ability, hockey sense, size and character. When you get all of that in one package, it's pretty hard to find a better prospect. I know this kid very well, know his leadership abilities and calmness under pressure, his confidence level and upside. He's a very rare U.S. talent." Jones doesn't take those compliments lightly. "Coach Taylor helped bring USA Hockey to where it is today," Jones said. "He was a great person and did a lot for me and USA Hockey and no one will ever forget it. Knowing he said that about me is a tremendous honor. It's awesome to hear something like that." Jones also happens to be the son of former NBA player Ronald "Popeye" Jones, who spent 12 seasons in the league, including time with the Denver Nuggets. And wouldn't you know it, the Colorado Avalanche hold the No. 1 pick at the 2013 NHL Draft. "He's used to handling the limelight [because of that family pedigree], and I don't know if he likes it so much, but his overall game is just so smooth, sometimes he does things you don't even notice, but he has complete control with his shifts and doesn't get rattled," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com. "Overall, he does everything so smoothly. After a while, you almost take him for granted."
Likely top pick Jones projects as complete package
NHL.com | May 22