April 05, 2012
Seth Jones hasn't decided where he's taking his talents, which is probably an apropos reference to make with the defenceman who's likely to create the first NBA/NHL father-son combo.
As so often happens with grads of the U.S. national team development program, there's plenty of speculation of whether it will be college or the Canadian Hockey League for Jones next season. The WHL's Everett Silvertips are working hard to try to land the defenceman as either a replacement for or complement to Ryan Murray, who could be the first defender selected in the NHL draft this summer. Everett general manager Garry Davidson told the Everett Herald earlier this week that one has to "really believe [Jones is] leaning toward the WHL or he would have made a commitment by now."
It's either that or it's a 17-year-old who wants to make sure. Ryan S. Clark spoke to Jones' father, former NBA forward Popeye Jones, who said at the earliest, nothing will be certain about Seth's status until after the IIHF under-18 championship.
"It's still very much up in the air right now," Popeye Jones said by phone. "He wants to focus on the U-18 worlds and he's been focusing and preparing very hard for that. His decision will probably come after the U-18 worlds. It's his life and he's still young. But he's a pretty mature kid and it's a decision he needs to make."
... Should Jones pick North Dakota, he would go to one of college hockey's perennial powers and a program which has sent numerous players into the NHL such as current stars, Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise.
He would also enhance a recruiting class which features his NTDP teammate, Miles Koules; Fargo Force goaltender and Boston Bruins draft pick Zane Gothberg and Green Bay defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, who could be a first-round pick in this year's draft.
Though if Jones chooses to spend next season in Everett, he would play for a franchise which has produced four first-round selections since 2006. It would also give Jones a chance to play in the WHL, which has been a strong breeding ground for first-round defensemen. (Slightly Chilled)
Gregg Drinnan disclosed the Silvertips have fended off trade offers for Jones' playing rights from their U.S. Division contemporaries in Portland and Tri-City. Take that for what it's worth, but some would take that to mean Jones is definitely open to being in the WHL for his draft season. (Would that introduce the phrase "one-and-done" to the junior hockey lexicon?) As Drinnan noted:
... the final words go to a source familiar with the situation, who told me: "Seth is 50-50." (Taking Note)
What role the WHL's bumper crop of blueliners — the fab five of Murray, Red Deer's Mathew Dumba, Portland's Derrick Pouliot, Moose Jaw's Morgan Rielly and Edmonton's Griffin Reinhart, all projected first-round picks — plays in Everett wooing Jones is unclear. It probably doesn't hurt, though. Meantime, it would be a kick in the pants for the University of North Dakota to lose him. The NCAA powerhouse already lost one recruit from the U.S. NTDP to CHL when Stefan Matteau decided to join the Quebec league's Blainville-Boisbriand Armada next season, where his father is an assistant coach.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.