Seth Jones Would Fit with Florida Panthers as No. 2 Pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIJune 30, 2013

BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 29:  Seth Jones #3 of Team McClanahan skates against Team Housley at the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at the First Niagara Center on September 29, 2012 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Florida Panthers will select precocious defenseman Seth Jones in Sunday's 2013 NHL draft because the 18-year-old is a unique talent and fits what the franchise needs.

From what Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy and executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic have recently said, Colorado will pass on Jones with the top pick in favor of center Nathan MacKinnon.

Florida is next up and thus serves as Jones' likely destination. Despite his youth and the pressure that comes with being selected high in the draft, there's every reason to think Jones can be an impact player immediately.

CSN Philly's John Boruk is befuddled that any team could pass on Jones and suggests that interest would swirl for the No. 2 pick if Jones is still on the board as expected:

There is no way the Panthers let him slide, though, because they gave up a league-high 3.5 goals per game and killed just 74.2 percent of penalties successfully—worst in the NHL.

Jones is already 6'4" and 205 pounds, which gives him the physical presence of a seasoned veteran and a leg up on most of the other touted rookies.

But don't let that size fool you into thinking he's a bumbling, uncoordinated mess. Jones is a magnificent athlete, phenomenal skater and legitimate two-way threat.

As a defender for the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks, the offensive production from Jones was staggering. He posted 14 goals and 42 assists in just 61 regular-season games and then registered 15 points in 21 playoff games.

That's another reason the Panthers shouldn't let Jones out of their hands no matter how tantalizing a trade offer for the second pick may be. Jones would instantly fortify an offense that scored the second fewest goals in the league.

The fact that Jones is black is also significant. If the Panthers draft him, he would be the highest selected black player in the draft's 51-year history, per's Michael G. Morreale.

Joe LaPointe of The Globe and Mail logged former NHL player Anson Carter's thoughts on what Jones could do to break down the stereotypes of hockey:

Seth will take it to another level...He’ll help open the eyes and help bring credibility and awareness to African-American athletes. When they see a player of their own that’s born and raised and trained Stateside, I think it’ll be a great thing.

Jones could be marketed widely as the new face of the franchise in that regard, but he also has the substance as a player to back it up. In addition, he would form a dynamic defensive duo alongside 2010 No. 3 overall pick Erik Gudbranson.

General manager Dale Tallon should be getting a special player on Sunday evening in Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Center, and don't be surprised if Jones' presence is felt in the NHL on and off the ice in 2013-14.