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Born in Plano, Texas and son of former basketball star “Popeye” Jones, Seth Jones doesn’t exactly have the roots traditionally associated with a potential 1st overall NHL draft pick. However, after two standout seasons with the USNTDP and 17 points through his first 24 WHL games with the Portland Winterhawks, he is proving to be just that.
Jones is an extremely rare blend of size, mobility, skill and raw athletic ability. He already has an NHL frame, standing 6’4 205 lbs, and despite his size, has exceptional mobility and a very smooth skating stride. He uses this high-end skating ability in Portland to carry the puck out of his own end and through the neutral zone with relative ease. When he isn’t given room to skate, Seth’s superb vision allows him to identify the appropriate outlet and make a crisp first pass out of the zone to start the play up ice. His calm demeanour and high hockey IQ means he seldom makes mistakes and turnovers in his own end are rare.
On the power play, Jones is capable of playing a quarterback role, but appears more comfortable as a shooter. He possesses an extremely heavy slapshot that he is not afraid to let go from anywhere in the offensive zone. His mobility allows him to fake, move laterally and create lanes to get his shot through which makes a very dangerous weapon at the point on the man advantage.
One of the most unique skill sets Jones possesses are his silky smooth hands; a very rare quality for a defensemen his size. He has the ability to stick handle his way out of trouble in small spaces and has excellent control of the puck at top speed. This was on full display during a highlight reel end-to-end goal scored back on Halloween against Everett.
In the defensive zone, Jones plays a more passive style of defense than one would expect from a player of his physical stature. He possesses a good active stick and his long reach provides him the ability poke pucks away, take away passing lanes and quickly clear loose pucks while his skating allows him to maintain body position and keep up with even the quickest opponents as they try to drive wide. However, Jones could benefit from adding some more grit to his game and perhaps becoming more physically aggressive in the defensive zone. He is already a physically imposing figure; he just needs to make the most of it. He will need to continue to develop the physical side of his game if he is to live up to the NHL comparisons he is drawing such as Chris Pronger and Rob Blake.