Player: Seth Jones
Drafted By: Nashville Predators (4th overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 1 North American skater
Height/Weight: 6'4'', 205 lbs
DOB: October 3, 1994 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: WHL, Portland Winterhawks
Seth Jones has been considered a top-end defensive player since the Everett Silvertips drafted him 11th overall in the 2009 WHL bantam draft. He elected to spend the next two years with the U.S. National Team Development program, splitting time between the USHL, U-17 and U-18 teams before joining the Portland Winterhawks in 2013.
In 61 games with the Winterhawks, Jones posted 56 points and was an astonishing plus-46. Showing his knack for big-game play, Jones also provided 15 points in 21 Memorial Cup playoff games for Portland.
Full Scouting Report
When asked to find a weakness in the game that Jones plays, scouts are typically stupefied. There isn't anything he hasn't done well at the junior level, and he is continuing to develop and improve upon an already outstanding foundation as a player.
Jones skates well for a kid his size, has an underrated shot and is sound in his own end. The word that seems most used when describing the defender is "fluid." His stride appears effortless, his stick work flows and he tends to be the center around which games rotate.
Like most teenage defenders, Jones could stand to perform better positionally, but there's no question about his hockey IQ and ability to improve in that area. While he's not an overly mean presence on the blue line, there's no hesitation from Jones when it comes to the rough stuff if the opportunity and reason presents itself.
NHL Player Comparison
Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jones is a larger version of Letang, who's a fleet-footed skater with outstanding offensive instincts.
The size and smarts are already there, and no one would be surprised to see Jones in the NHL for the 2013-14 season. It probably wouldn't be wise to expect him to be a top-pairing guy, but he could find his way into a role similar to that of Dougie Hamilton of the Boston Bruins. Floating around and learning the ropes as a professional, beefing up a bit and gaining valuable experience. He'll likely play more games than Hamilton, but the learning program will be similar.
This is a rare defenseman than can break the game open from the back end. Jones is capable of coming up with big offensive and defensive plays, makes slick passes and possesses the uncanny traits attributed to quality leaders in the NHL.
Not only could he be a franchise presence on defense, it's impossible to overlook his likeability and charming background story.