Earlier this week, it seemed like all but a sure thing that Seth Jones would be taken first overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the upcoming NHL Draft.
He learned to skate in Colorado, his dad (former NBA player, Tennessee native and Murray State alum Popeye Jones) was at least an acquaintance of Joe Sakic and – most importantly – Colorado appears to have a gaping need for a defenseman.
It could be showmanship…although whose show, no one knows…but Colorado has given indications this week that they would rather take one of the “big 3″ forwards – Nathan Mackinnon, Jonathan Drouin or Aleksander Barkov – on June 30th.
Most who have been following the pre-Draft activities have determined that Colorado would take Seth Jones and Florida, Tampa and Nashville would then take the 3 forwards. Most mock drafts tend to have the Predators acquiring Barkov, but, of course, those are dependent on him not being selected in the first 3 picks.
Now, however, the scenario exists where Seth Jones might be available at the fourth overall pick.
It’s well known that Nashville needs scoring help. However, if Nashville fails to acquire one of the big 3, the option will be there at the fourth pick to take a forward higher than they really should be drafted or to take – by most measures – the best player in the Draft, Seth Jones.
Do the Predators need a scoring forward? Absolutely. There’s no denying that. However, a Draft pick isn’t supposed to just be an immediate fix – it’s supposed to be a long term investment.
Don’t forget that Ryan Suter is gone. As Brent Peterson is fond of saying, the Predators replaced Ryan Suter with Roman Josi, but they did not replace Roman Josi.
Enter Seth Jones.
New Predators assistant coach Phil Housley has experience as Jones’ head coach in World Juniors, he knows what the Predators would be getting. He also knows what Jones needs to succeed.
With Seth Jones, you have a top four that also includes the likes of Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Kevin Klein. It may not be the best top 4 in the NHL, but it would be pretty close to it. And all four would be under contract for at least the next 3 years.
Seth Jones is not just any defenseman – he’s potentially a perennial Norris Trophy candidate. Yes, these honors get thrown around quite a bit before every Draft, but in this case it might be true. Jones is not only one of the best – if not the best – skaters in the upcoming Draft class. He also has a booming, Shea Weber-ish shot. For a team with the power play struggles that Nashville had last season, why would you not want two cannons on the power play?
There is a reason that Seth Jones is the top overall prospect by virtually all measures – except for the International Scouting Service, who ranks Mackinnon ahead of him. It’s because he’s good and only has the potential to get better. In addition, he has an offensive upside that none of the other defenseman in the draft have.
Will he actually be there when Nashville picks? Honestly, I doubt it. I cannot see Tampa Bay passing on him if he is there (and said so much yesterday). In that case, Nashville would just take the remaining player out of Mackinnon, Drouin and Barkov.
Don’t misunderstand – if Seth Jones is there and Nashville opts to draft Valeri Nichushkin, Elias Lindholm, Sean Monahan or some other top ranked forward, it’s not a bad choice. There’s a reason that those players are ranked highly after all – all would likely impact the team positively. However, if he is there, Nashville should have a pretty difficult time passing on him.