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2013 Draft Guide Preview: Seth Jones – Memorial Cup

Portland pulled out a much-needed victory Monday at the 2013 Memorial Cup, beating the London Knights 6-3 , with some anxious moments for the Winterhawks. In an awkwardly-familiar scenario to the previous nights loss to Halifax, they allowed London to storm back from 3-0 in the second period, with dominating performances by fellow first-round draftees on the opposing team. This time it was Max Domi and Bo Horvat, showing skill and drive to bring the Knights back, teaming up on a brilliant goal to come within one.  It is a testament to the coaching staff at Portland, after a season of challenges as an organization, to calm this talented team down and play some disciplined hockey after London tied it at 3-3. It also spoke to Jones growing maturity after a long and intense season of scrutiny. He displayed a level head and provided a solid contribution while leaving the offensive leadership from the back end to Derrick Pouliot, the Pittsburgh Penguins first round pick from last season.

It is likely most NHL teams with early picks in the NHL Draft have watched Seth Jones with interest all season, it is unlikely this tournament will affect their opinion at this point, given the file of notes they have compiled. These experiences can only be crucial to his growth as the potential rock you build your team upon. For this reason the Memorial Cup has already been a success for Seth Jones. More experience at a high level and continued character development through challenges are only seen as positives, somewhat regardless of the outcome.

There are questions about drafting a defenseman first overall given recent high picks Victor Hedman and Erik Johnson’s slow development. This along with questions about his defensive play, his physicality and intensity as outlined in more detail below in our scouting profile have many questioning whether he will be making history as the first African-American to be drafted first overall in the NHL. These questions are fair, but there is no denying the incredible fluid skating skills and the athleticism that allows him to take control of the tempo at times. There is some similarity to Larry Robinson, a fellow big man who relied on skill and instinct while using his size judiciously but wisely. Jones is a young man who has progressed and grown this season, the upside is formidable, and one the Avalanche will not be able to resist.

We discussed the great personal connection Jones has to Colorado in our last article. Here is a video of his father, NBA professional basketball player, Popeye Jones, explaining the tip he received from Joe Sakic. Our scouting report on Seth Jones is below.

Seth Jones D, Portland Winterhawks
Soared to the top of the charts with a commanding performance in helping Team USA win U20 World Junior gold (7-1-6-7) .. overcame a tentative WHL start last fall to steadily grow in confidence – and wound up capturing WHL ‘Rookie of the Year’ honours .. won back-to-back U18 World Junior gold medals in 2011 (6-0-3-3) and 2012 (6-3-5-8) .. the son of former pro NBA basketball player Ronald ‘Popeye’ Jones .. SCOUTING REPORT .. a vibrant, full-range blueliner blessed with extraordinary athleticism, co-ordination, and mobility .. hands are soft, quick, and strong .. caresses pucks on his blade and shows uncommon confidence and bravado in possession .. stickhandles past checks and spins away from pursuers – with casual ease .. delivers searing tape-to-tape passes with a mere flick of his powerful wrists .. never shy about showing off a booming slapshot and likewise-potent wristshot .. a thoroughbred skater – remarkably nimble and buoyant .. only requires a few long, powerful strides to reach an elite top gear .. reverses direction with the speed and dexterity of a small, quick forward – yet using massive custom-made, size-15 skates .. possesses great elusiveness .. maturing as a puckmover – starting to simplify on breakouts and integrate teammates more effectively .. a constant attacking threat – can go end-to-end – or pry open a defense with a fast, probing strike .. displays a nose for picking opportune times to attack .. still raw and developing defensively .. naturally impulsive – wants to aggressively close gaps with his mobility – yet doesn’t drive through checks and punish consistently .. prone to lapses in intensity and focus – can appear bewildered on extended defending sequences – reactive and labouring to track the puck .. needs to work on his overall positioning while developing stronger 1-on-1 defending postures .. at his best when being patient and staying within the team system – and harnessing a natural wild side.

A great piece with his father explaining the Joe Sakic advice. The video is a little old, when Seth was trying out for the US national team as a 16 year old, but tells the story very well.