After three teams passed him by even though he had the makings of a first overall NHL draft pick, Seth Jones now has the potential to prove himself a steal for the Nashville Predators. While the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning all opted for offense two months ago, the Preds made him the highest pick among defensemen with the fourth overall selection.
Selection order aside, Jones is advancing his professional career with as little hesitation as possible. In addition to signing his entry-level deal, he accepted an invitation to Team USA’s Olympic Orientation Camp, making him one of a handful of 2014 roster candidates who have yet to play an NHL game.
In terms of excitement, making the final cut and garnering a passport to Sochi, Russia, would be syrup and whipped cream on Jones’ rookie sundae. Nashville management has noticeably spent its summer clearing roster space to ensure that the point-patrolling prodigy is with the club this autumn.
Those efforts are easy to understand since Jones does not have much, if anything, left to prove in the amateur ranks. He was nearly a point-per-gamer with the Portland Winterhawks and the United States World Junior team, and he should blossom into an effective defender of his own zone as he fills out his 6'4" frame.
Per Elite Prospects, he will also offer plenty in the other zones with “excellent mobility…puck-handling and a very dangerous slap shot.”
Jones leads off a list of 20 defensemen who by 2020 can all be bona fide NHL elites at their position. Here are the other 19 in alphabetical order.