Defenseman Seth Jones has been touted as the best prospect in a talent-rich 2013 NHL Draft class. The Nashville Predators need offense, but would it be all that bad of a thing if they had the opportunity to bag a stud replacement for the departed Ryan Suter? We don’t think so (and neither should you).
Today is Draft Day in the NHL. Will it be as huge a day as it was for the Nashville Predators 10 years and nine days ago? That 2003 NHL Draft, held here in Music City landed the Preds the likes of defensemen Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Kevin Klein. It has since been regarded — overwhelmingly so — as having yielded the most talented crop of talent in NHL history.
Many observers have mused that this year’s draft may come close to matching the quality-level of the one a decade ago, at least in terms of 2013′s cream of the crop. And while you never particularly LIKE to see your team struggle as Nashville did down the stretch last season, if the Preds ever had to choose an opportune time to suck, as the vast majority of great teams do at some point en route to becoming great, this recent strike-shortened campaign was it.
Much has been said about Nashville’s ultimate success in this draft being tied to landing one of its top three offensive players in forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Alexander Barkov. However, Nashville picks in the #4 spot, and I would not at all be unhappy to see defenseman Seth Jones, touted by many as the best overall talent in this vastly talented draft class, still sitting there available for the Preds to snatch up.
Jones could be the ultimate upgrade on a Preds’ blueline squad that most certainly felt the loss of Suter last season and has yet to find a viable option for replacing his talent. Unlike some who have said Nashville would be losing a golden opportunity if they don’t draft a top offensive player with their overall second-highest draft pick in team history, in my opinion, should those aforementioned forwards be taken one-two-three, then passing over Jones would be an even greater mistake.
Jones had been hailed as the best defensive prospect in size, physicality and shot deadliness since Chris Pronger. Ya gotta love that!
Additionally, for all of the great storyline connections being bandied about regarding Jones’ personal history, having begun playing hockey while living in Denver for a brief part of his early childhood (and thus being a lifelong fan of the Colorado Avalanche), Nashville offers at least a second-most comparable homecoming scenario for Jones and his family.
Jones’ father, basketball star Popeye Jones, is a native of Dresden Tennessee and was a standout for nearby Murray State in southern Kentucky in the late 1980s-to-early-1990s. He would go on to play 10 years in the NBA for six different teams, including one season for the Denver Nuggets in 1999-2000. It was during that stop in the Mile-High City that Popeye sought out the councel of the Avs then-star forward and now Hall-of-Famer and current General Manager, Joe Sakic about getting four year-old Seth involved in hockey. The rest, as they say, is history.
In many respects, it would be nice to see that story play out as many have predicted it will, with Jones returning to the place of his hockey beginnings; however, if he doesn’t, it would be equally great for Nashville to see him settle in and expand his even deeper family roots in here in Tennessee.
We’ll see what happens shortly.
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