Young American defenseman Seth Jones (18 years old) s was named the top draft-eligible skater from North America by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau which is no real surprise to many observers.
Seth Jones who has been on the professional radar since he was 15 years old has the size, speed, strength and grit. After playing AAA youth hockey with the Dallas Stars Elite and standing out on the ice early as a defensive, offensive and physical presence Jones began to make an impression a while back.
Seth whose father was NBA player Popeye Jones if selected first will make history as the first African American ever selected first in the NHL.
Jones played two seasons with the U.S. National U18 Team during the 2010–11 and 2011–12 USHL seasons. After he finished his career with the U.S. National U18 Team Jones had to make a choice whether to play his draft year season with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux or the Everett Silvertips, who had drafted him in the first round of the WHL Bantam draft in 2009. The Portland Winterhawks traded for Jones' WHL rights, and shortly after Jones signed with the Winterhawks.
They are one of the most successful teams in terms of NHL alumni including Braydon Coburn, Adam Deadmarsh, Brandon Dubinsky, Andrew Ference, Paul Gaustad, Jannik Hansen, Marián Hossa, Brenden Morrow, Mike Vernon, Glen Wesley and Hall of Famers Mark Messier and Cam Neely.
"Seth is a big, rangy defenseman who has a nice command of his shifts," NHL Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com. "He has the ability to be a game-changer because he has good instincts and awareness. He's an underrated passer, possesses solid one-on-one play and can skate the puck out of danger at any time. He's already the complete package, but I get the feeling he still has another gear to go to."
"Seth is a world-class player with the ability to come in and make an immediate impact next season," Portland coach/GM Mike Johnston said. "He combines tremendous offensive instincts with the ability to be a shut-down defenseman in his own end”
Now playing junior hockey for the Portland Winter Hawks Jones leads all rookie Western Hockey League defensemen with 42 points in 46 games this season. The six-foot-three, 208-pounder has nine goals, 33 assists and a plus-35 rating.
Jones also helped the U.S. team win gold at the world junior hockey championship earlier this month. He aims to be just the third American-born defenseman to be drafted first overall after Bryan Berard in 1995 and Erik Johnson in 2006.
Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon of Halifax is ranked second among North American skaters. He leads the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team in scoring with 55 points (23-32) in 32 games.
Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., is third on the list, followed by Ottawa 67s centre Sean Monahan of Brampton, Ont., and Medicine Hat Tigers centre Hunter Shinkaruk of Calgary.
The mid-season rankings feature the top 210 skaters and 35 goaltenders in North America and top 116 skaters and 10 goaltenders from Europe.
The 2013 NHL Draft will be held in Newark, N.J., this summer. The Edmonton Oilers selected Russian forward Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick last year.