Nashville Predators' Drafting of Seth Jones Makes Them Winners in the Draft
"I wish I wouldn't have to say, 'I can't believe the player was there,' but we had Seth Jones rated No. 1. We think he is just a terrific player," Poile said. "This is a franchise-type player. ... Seth Jones to us has been the best player, but we'll see. We all know how it goes with the draft and we won't know for several years, but this feels real good."
Poile echoed a sentiment many other rival GMs had previously said—that Jones was the best prospect overall in this year's heavily stacked draft. So when Jones was passed over by not only the Colorado Avalanche (who held the No. 1 overall pick) but also the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Poile ensured Jones would fall no further.
The former Portland Winterhawk, still only 18, stands at 6'4" and weighs 205 pounds. Scouts have repeatedly lauded his polished two-way game, including his booming shot from the point, his on-ice vision, as well as his positioning and physical play on defense.
Throughout the pre-draft process, the phrases "franchise player" and "elite potential" were often attached to predictions about Jones' game at the NHL level. Players with those sorts of labels given to them come along very rarely, especially so for defenseman.
So to have Jones available to pick at a No. 4 when the consensus among scouts was that he was guaranteed to be a top-two selection was a huge victory for the Predators.
And taking him with their pick automatically makes them one of the winners after this year's draft.
Despite Roman Josi's emergence as a top-four defenseman for Nashville this last season, the loss of former Predator Ryan Suter left a huge hole on Nashville's blue line that the team struggled to cope with. Suter's departure was one of the key reasons that the Predators missed the playoffs by a substantial amount this year.
However, Jones projects to instantly fill the top-line role that Suter left as a partner for incumbent captain Shea Weber whilst being able to immediately contribute on the power play and penalty kill.
His presence also adds to the extraordinary depth that Nashville now has on defense, as he joins the likes of Weber, Josi, Kevin Klein, Ryan Ellis, Vic Bartley, Hal Gill and more at the NHL level.
Whilst adding a top-six forward to help Nashville's anemic offense was, and still most likely is, more of a concern for Poile, Jones' fall—coinciding with the Panthers' selection of target Sasha Barkov—meant drafting Jones was a move that made a lot of sense for the organization's long-term as well as immediate future.
Jones has the potential to become an elite defenseman in "Smashville" in the Predators' defense-orientated system under coach Barry Trotz. He will also make a difference in aiding an offense that ranked 29th in the league last season in goals scored per game.
Jones is a rarity, someone that will help his team in all areas of the game upon his arrival, and he figures to be a future franchise cornerstone in Nashville.
Picks like that, especially at No. 4 overall, make any team a "draft winner."
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