Jones is an American defenceman who has spent the last two seasons playing in the USHL and was originally committed to the University of North Dakota. The Everett Silvertips also held his WHL rights. In recent weeks it became clear that we wouldn't be signing with Everett if he did intend on heading North and the Tips dealt the right to speak with Jones to the Portland Winterhawks.
(photo credit to Vancouver Sun)
Finally decision day has arrived as Jones will join Portland starting next season. A deal has been reached between the Winterhawks and Silvertips, with details expected to be announced tomorrow.
It's huge news for the WHL and fans of the NHL draft as Jones is already an elite player. He's also expected to be a top 3 pick in the 2013 NHL draft. He's coming off a USHL season where he posted 12 points in 20 games and also captained Team USA to a Gold Medal at the U-18's in the Czech Republic only weeks ago. He stands 6'3, weighs over 200 pounds and is the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones...so expect him to continue to grow.
The 2013 NHL draft is shaping up to be fantastic, especially when looking out West at the WHL. Jones now likely stands head and shoulders above the rest of the WHL crop, but that's no slight against the other players eligible. He's simply that good. He controls the tempo of a game, is a great skater for his size, hits like a truck, has excellent vision and a rocket of a shot. He can play top PP minutes and on the top PK unit. I wouldn't hesitate to say that he is very close to being NHL-ready.
As mentioned, the rest of the WHL class is shaping up to be fantastic as well. Other guys who stand out right now:
Hunter Shinkaruk - Elite scorer for the Medicine Hat Tigers who plays a similar style to Sidney Crosby.
Ryan Pulock - A top end puck moving defender for Brandon, has a 95ish MPH slapper.
Curtis Lazar - A big rugged forward who has elite goal scoring hands for Edmonton.
Josh Morrissey - A solid two way defender for Prince Albert. Had a strong showing at the Under 18's for Canada recently.
Eric Comrie - Big goaltender for Tri-City, expected to start 50+ games next year as a 17 year old.
Morgan Klimchuk - Gritty and rugged forward with nice offensive skills for Regina.
Alex Forsberg - Wizard with the puck, great vision on this Cougars forward.
Madison Bowey - Huge blueliner for Kelowna. Raw, but comes from a defensive factory.
I can't name everyone, but I could keep going and going. Names like Rankin, Needham, Heatherington, Roy.... The bottom line is, the 2013 NHL draft is going to be special, especially for the WHL.
Seth Jones now highlights the group and it's going to be a fun thing to watch!