Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Forwards Popular in Nhl Draft; Sentiment Is Not

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Forwards Popular in Nhl Draft; Sentiment Is Not

Article excerpt


The fairy tale was not to be for Seth Jones at the NHL draft Sunday at Prudential Center. Had the Colorado Avalanche taken him with the first overall pick, he would have gone to the team he watched lift the Stanley Cup when he was 6, the team he grew up admiring. Jones, the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, also would have become the first African-American player to be the No. 1 NHL pick.

Both dreams vanished when the Avalanche selected Nathan MacKinnon. Jones, who was widely considered the draft's top prospect, was selected fourth by the Nashville Predators.

"It definitely sounded too good to be true, and it turned out that way," Jones said.

Not that Jones, an 18-year-old defenseman, was complaining. But he could not hide his disappointment about sitting in the stands, waiting, while the general astonishment in the arena mounted. He said he felt a little bit burned about being passed over by three teams.

"I have a competitive nature," he said. "Yeah, you definitely want to prove them wrong and you definitely want to show them why they should have picked you. That's not my only goal next year, but it's definitely on my list."

Jones may have been considered the top talent, but Colorado's head of hockey operations, Joe Sakic, and the team's new coach, Patrick Roy, had been saying for the past week that they planned to make the high-scoring Halifax center MacKinnon the first pick.

Florida then chose the Russian-Finnish center Alexander Barkov with the second pick, and Tampa Bay took Halifax winger Jonathan Drouin with the third.

Only then did Nashville take the 6-foot-4 Jones, who starred for the Western Hockey League champion Portland Winterhawks and the gold- medal-winning U.S. world junior team.

That Jones went fourth was a function of the first three teams' wanting forwards -- the long-standing belief it takes defensemen longer to develop -- and the fact MacKinnon and Drouin had a better Memorial Cup tournament than Jones, with Halifax beating Portland in the championship game.

MacKinnon and Drouin said they were still surprised that Jones fell to fourth. …

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