Defenseman Seth Jones is clearly the best option for the Colorado Avalanche with the No. 1 selection of the 2013 NHL draft. With an 18.8 percent chance, The Avs won the 2013 NHL draft lottery after recording the second-worst record in the NHL during the strike-shortened 2012-13 season.
The Florida Panthers were narrowly worse after recording just 36 points during the season.
Jones, 18, is a local product who moved to the Denver, Colo. area when he was just five years old. His father, Ron “Popeye” Jones, played professional basketball for the Denver Nuggets for 11 seasons.
Beyond the obvious connections, Jones (6’3”, 205 pounds) is a complete player who is a verifiable ace on defense. Excelling on defense isn’t the extent of his game, though.
Jones is a fundamentally sound player who uses his knowledge to work up and down the ice. He doesn’t get out of position and knows when to attack and when to stay home. Those two-way skills make him an attractive option because he can stay on the ice in nearly every situation.
A big, smart, versatile and strong defender is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Avs.
Colorado’s minus-36 goal differential was the second worst in the NHL last season. Finding a top defenseman like Jones makes sense for it on every level.
It has a definite need for a defender and Jones has the skills to be a dominant player at the position for many, many years to come.
So what’s left to discuss?
Rick Pracey, Colorado’s chief scout, recently said the pick was far from determined at this point, according to Adrian Dater of The Denver Post.
The No. 1 spot, it’s open. You know, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin and Alexander Barkov, and you go into other guys. There are others out there—Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm—that are very, very interesting players. It’s by far not a slam dunk. It’s not one player that’s running away with this thing.
Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon are also excellent choices and could quickly help boost the Avs’ stagnant offense. Colorado scored a near league-low 116 goals last season.
However, its lack of defensive depth and quality starters on defense makes that the more pressing need. Drafting for need isn’t always the best way to go, but Jones is arguably the best and most complete prospect of the group.
This is an easy decision—a decision Pracey and Avs management shouldn’t over-think.