Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2013 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical draft profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2013 Draft Articles Click here.
Edit: Drafted 4th overall by the Nashville Predators.
The number three prospect on our list might come as a surprise to many, because he is ranked #1 in so many other places. This ranking is not a knock on Jones’ talent or ability, as we believe that he is a fantastic prospect. However we do favour the Halifax teammates Jonathan Drouin, and Nathan MacKinnon, just slightly ahead of Jones. In the profile on MacKinnon I did give a couple of reasons for that ranking.
Today though, lets look at Jones. The son of former NBA player, Popeye Jones, Seth was born in Plano, Texas and is trying to be the first Texan to be taken first overall in the NHL draft. At the age of five, he was living in Denver while his father was playing for the Nuggets and picked up the game of hockey there. Its been a banner year for Jones, as he was part of the USA’s gold medal winning team at the 2012 IIHF Under 18 World Championships, part of another gold medal winning USA squad at the 2013 World Junior Championships, and has helped lead his Portland Winterhawks club to one of the best regular season records in the WHL, and as of this writing they have earned a spot in the WHL Western Conference finals as they chase down a possible birth in the Memorial Cup.
Born — Plano, TX
Height 6.04 — Weight 206 — Shoots Right
February Rank: 2
Jones has tremendous potential as an offensive defenceman. He has a fantastic point shot and understands how to keep it low so that it is most effective with traffic in front of the net. The release on his wrist shot is good, and his one timers are lethal. He is a good passer, both in starting the rush out of his own end and in quarterbacking things on the powerplay. His puckhandling and poise at the back end shows his patience and maturity, and allows him to take advantage of his skills and not be rushed by pressure from opposing defenders. As a rookie in the WHL and an undrafted defenceman he finished 4th in scoring by a defenceman and played 10 or 11 less games than all three players who finished in front of him (due in part to his participation in the World Juniors).
For a big man, Jones is a very good skater. He has great mobility. His edgework and agility allow him to make quick cuts and pivots in any direction and to cover the whole ice. His skating stride is fluid, both moving forwards and backwards, and he generates good top end speed and acceleration. When watching his skating, you have to remind yourself that he is a bigger defenceman, because it is rare to see someone his size have such good skating ability.
Defensively, Jones has very good fundamentals. His skating ability, and agility makes him very difficult to beat one-on-one off the rush. In his own zone, he is good positionally, and understands how to read and diagnose plays. He has an active stick, and cuts down passing and shooting lanes effectively. He does use his size to lean on forwards and to win board battles, but he’s not a huge hitter, and doesn’t appear to have a real mean streak. There have been comparisons to Chris Pronger, but we don’t like those comparisons due to this lack of a real mean streak.
Stylistically we’d compare Jones to Jay Bouwmeester, with his great size, fluid skating, and excellent game at both ends of the ice. He especially reminds us of where Bouwmeester was in 2002 as he was coming out of Junior Hockey. Remember that this is a stylistic comparison only. Bouwmeester, while a very good defenceman, never reached his full potential to be an elite, dominant, game changer at the NHL level. He never reached his ceiling of being a Norris caliber defender. We think Jones has that type of potential, to be amongst the best defenders in the NHL, and it will be up to the team that drafts him to try to develop him into that type of player.
Once again, we leave you with a youtube compilation of Seth Jones’ highlights.
Check back in tomorrow, when we reveal our pick for the 4th best prospect in the NHL Draft. It certainly isn’t as clear cut a choice as the top 3.
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