Well, Buffalo Sabres fans, the 2013 NHL Entry Draft is rapidly approaching , and with it comes the drama (“If the Sabres screw this up, I’ll buy tickets to a game again!”), the intrigue (can the Sabres actually trade up a top 3 pick?), and the whining (“But I want to go to the draft party at First Niagara Center!”).
(That last one was me, by the way. Stupid Little League night – you had to pick June 30th, huh?)
Fans of the blue and gold should be excited by this year’s draft, as the Sabres have two picks in the top twenty of a fairly deep pool of prospects. I know many people are not happy with the fact that it will be Darcy Regier and company deciding on the picks this year – you readers sure have not been shy about sharing that sentiment! – but come on: stop complaining for now. Nothing is going to change between now and the draft, so start channeling positive energy and pray to the hockey gods that the Sabres don’t screw this thing up!
Now, I understand that I have already completed the 2013 Fandsided Mock Draft, and in doing so I gathered input from you, the fans, as to who the Sabres should pick at the 8th and the 16th slots. Since then, the Sabres organization has found its Daddy Pants and decided it wants to be a major player in this draft, and is looking to move up into the top three, possibly even number one. I doubt that will happen . . . but I feel I would be shirking my responsibility if I did not provide you with complete draft coverage here at Sabre Noise, so let’s play the, “What if?” game and go through each of the top ten draft prospects one at a time, beginning with
Seth Jones, defense.
If you’re keeping up with all of the draft talk, you must feel like everywhere you turn, especially if you are on NHL.com (jeez!), you’re seeing and hearing an awful lot about Seth Jones (and from, since he is writing a draft blog for the NHL – yawn). Jones is the top-ranked player in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters, and he is projected to be the top pick in the draft, with a worst-case scenario of, “Damn it, I was only top three.” Tough situation to find yourself in at the tender age of 18, right?
At 6’4″ and 205 lbs., Jones has the makings of an elite defender. He has good reach, good instincts (I refuse to discuss any player’s “hockey IQ” just so you know!), and the athletic pedigree you want to see in a potential number one pick (his father was . . . yeah, you already know all of this). He was named the Western Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year as a member of the Portland Winterhawks last year, as he posted eye-popping numbers of 56 points (14-42-56) and a +46 rating when the regular season was said and done. He helped lead the Winterhawks to the Memorial Cup final, where they were defeated by the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. Jones also helped Team USA win gold at the 2013 World Junior Championships, and he was a captain on the Under-18 team that won gold at the World Championships in 2012. Quite the resume for this young lad.
Why The Sabres Should Pick Seth Jones
There are a number of reasons why the Sabres should pick Seth Jones, if they find themselves in the position to do so. He’s athletic, smart, has the sort of instincts you cannot teach, and the sort of build you can’t overlook. The Sabres had a defense that ranked in the bottom third of the NHL this season in goals allowed (2.9 per game) and only had one defenseman crack 20 points – Christian Ehrhoff, with 22. Jones would almost certainly improve the Sabres on both ends of the ice, as well as helping to bolster the Sabres’ terrible power play (second worst in the league).
Why the Sabres Won’t Draft Seth Jones
One word: defenseman. Two more words: Tyler Myers. Defensemen take longer to develop an NHL-quality game, and the Sabres need help sooner than later. Sabres’ fans know first-hand how long the process can take, as Tyler Myers has failed to live up to the expectations he built up during his sensational rookie campaign. (I understand injuries have played a role in this – but he was a mess before he got injured this season, so we can’t pin it all on his being hurt.) Jones has a lot in common with Myers – good size and reach, a good offensive game for someone at his position, but a lack of physicality that you need to have in order to man the blueline in the NHL. Jones is a tempting pick, but the Sabres have already been down this road once before, and there are better options out there for them. If the Sabres do land the number one pick, it won’t be to select Seth Jones.
Enjoy Seth Jones’ prospects video, and check in later as I look at the #2 draft prospect, Nathan MacKinnon.