By John Vogl
Junior team: Portland (WHL)
Born: Arlington, Texas
Measurables: 6-foot-4, 205 pounds
2012-13 stats: 61 games, 14 goals, 42 assists, 56 points
Central Scouting rank: No. 1
Lowdown: Jones, to use lingo familiar to his family, should be a slam dunk to go first overall if Colorado keeps the pick and steps to the dais June 30. The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones fell in love with hockey while his dad played in Denver after a tip from Joe Sakic, the Avalanche’s new executive vice president of hockey operations. If the Avs call his name, it will complete the homecoming. (UPDATE: After this was written, the Avs indicated the will likely draft a forward.) In addition to making a good story, it makes sense. The Avs have young, talented forwards, but they need defense. Jones is the best. Opponents struggle to get around his expansive wingspan. Most can’t speed past him because Jones is a flawless skater. The Texas native doesn’t have the mean streak many like along the blue line, but he is a good hitter. He should gain weight and become even more feared.
His offensive skills, including a cannon from the blue line, translate to the NHL. He had 15 points in 21 playoff games. At the world junior championships, he recorded seven points in seven games to help the United States win gold. He’s a smart passer.
If Jones goes No. 1 overall, he’ll be the first African-American selected at the top of the NHL draft. Evander Kane went fourth in 2009 to set the bar for black players. Jones would also be the first American picked at the top since Patrick Kane in 2007.
They said it: "Just a great athlete and built for today's game. He's big, strong, physical, great defensively, has a good stick, makes an excellent first pass out of the zone and plays in all situations. He's the most well-rounded player.” – Phil Housley, who coached Jones on the U.S. world junior team.
The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to next month's NHL draft, which will be held June 30.
taggedNHL Entry Draft