On June 30th, we could see a defenseman drafted 1st overall for only the 2nd time since 1996. Find out why Seth Jones sits atop the NHL’s Central Scouting rankings in Jeremy White’s Hockey Prospect Watch.
The first overall pick in the NHL Draft is not a place for defensemen. Only once in the last 16 years has a blue-liner been the first player off the board. In 2006, the St. Louis Blues selected Erik Johnson ahead of Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom, and Phil Kessel.
Johnson has essentially become a solid defenseman that likely garners “guy-in-the-league” status. Heading into the 2006 Draft, Johnson projected to be a seemingly perfect player. Looking back you’d think the Blues might want a mulligan on that pick.
I know what you’re thinking: There are busts sometimes, right? So Erik Johnson didn’t become a great player...big deal!
Ok, how about the other #1 overall picks that patrolled the blue line? You’d find one Hall of Famer in Denis Potvin, selected in 1967. You’d find some good players in the group too with Ed Jovanovski and Roman Hamrlik. Bryan Berard won the Calder Trophy in his first season in the league and had his career fall short because of injuries. The entire list though....doesn’t come close to what you can do at forward.
1966 - Barry Gibbs
1967 - Rick Pagnutti
1973 - Denis Potvin
1974 - Greg Joly
1976 - Rick Green
1979 - Rob Ramage
1982 - Gord Kluzak
1992 - Roman Hamrlik
1994 - Ed Jovanovski
1995 - Bryan Berard
1996 - Chris Phillips
2006 - Erik Johnson
It’s not an impressive list, considering the draft position. What’s this mean for Seth Jones? I’d say it means nothing for his individual career success, but it might dictate his draft position. The Avalanche, with ties to Jones, might be inclined to try to slide down to take him (for more assets) or they could easily just take the best forward available in Nathan MacKinnon.
Jones is thought to be a stud. Here’s why*:
Ranked as the #1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, Jones has had success at every level. His hockey life started in Denver as his father played for the Nuggets at that time. It seems like a perfect fit for the Avalanche, who are starting from the bottom.
Hockeysfuture.com - “Pro-sized defensemen. Very good range and lateral movement. Deceptively fast due to long, effortless stride. Intelligent puck mover.”
The review seems a bit short. Maybe everyone falls into the “yeah but he plays on D” trap.
If Seth Jones has a weakness in his game, I do not see it....He knows when to pinch, and he can exhibit high levels of offensive skill, creativity and vision. Jones has a cannon from the point, which can make him a very dangerous player on the power play. He is a big man with a ton of weapons. Finally, his size is a tremendous asset. He stands around 6'4'', and while he isn't a mean player, he takes his checks with the body. He projects as a top-end physical player.
Edmonton ran into this "but we don't want to take a D-man" problem last year and ultimately decided to take Nail Yakupov. The Oilers took the forward and then watched as 8 defensemen went in the Top 10. Yakupov finished his 48 game season with 17 goals, and the other forward taken, Alex Galchenyuk, stayed up with Montreal the entire season. (Now comes word that Edmonton might want to move Yakupov for help on D).
Jones is absolutely worth of the #1 overall pick. On June 30th we’ll find out if Colorado pays any attention to the ghosts of 2006. I wonder if they know about Erik Johnson...oh...wait....