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Jones ranked as top NHL Draft prospect

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Defenseman Seth Jones is ranked by Central Scouting as the top North American skater and Aleksander Barkov is the No. 1 prospect in Europe in the latest ratings for the 2013 NHL draft.

Jones led Western Hockey League rookie defensemen with 56 points (14-42) in 61 games this season for Portland. The Arlington, Texas, native is the son of former NBA player "Popeye" Jones.

The last U.S.-born player to be picked No. 1 in the NHL Draft was Chicago's Patrick Kane in 2007.

Barkov, a center from Tampere, Finland, had 48 points, including 21 goals, in 53 games for Tappara of the SM-Liiga during the 2012-13 season. He could become the first Finnish-born player selected No. 1 overall.

Ranked behind Jones in North America are Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon and teammate Jonathan Drouin, a winger.

"These are players you can build your team around, so what kind of player do you want to build with?" NHL director of central scouting Dan Marr said. "Do you want to build from the back end out, or do you want to build up the middle? There's no steadfast answer, so the projection is what the player will mean to the team.

"We think Seth's game is still going to develop, as are MacKinnon and Drouin, but we had no reason to remove Seth from that No. 1 spot. We do feel Nathan will get stronger and continue to develop."

Zachary Fucale, who plays with MacKinnon and Drouin for Halifax, is the No. 1-rated North American goaltender. Juuse Saros of Finland tops the European goalie rankings.

The NHL Draft will take place June 30 in New Jersey. All seven rounds will be conducted that day. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the draft in the United States and TSN will air it in Canada.
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