Last night, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reported that the Colorado Avalanche will likely pass over defenseman Seth Jones, if they pick at number one in the upcoming NHL Draft.
Joe Sakic, the executive vice president of hockey operations, told Dater that the team was leaning toward one of three forwards.
"We feel those three forwards are just too good to pass up," Sakic said.
It is pretty rare that a team will tip it's hand in such a way just 10 days before the draft. Are the Avs trolling for a trade?
The Florida Panthers are rumored to covet highly touted Nathan MacKinnon and are most likely planning to select him with the second choice overall. Sakic would be pretty crafty if he is able to bluff the Panthers into trading up, and then choose Jones anyway, whom they still might prefer.
Or, are the Avs being forthcoming and do they really prefer a forward? They are already loaded with talented centers. Although many experts project that the top rated forwards in this draft could be franchise type players.
This is all a guessing game for the moment, but let's look ahead for a bit at a scenario that could play out next week Sunday.
If the Avs feel that way about the forwards, then the Panthers and Lightning most likely do as well. The Predators are in dire need of offense, so they most likely would take the best rated forward available, even if Jones was still on the board at number four.
Supposing the following happens:
The Avs take MacKinnon, the Panthers take Drouin, the Lightning take Nichushkin, and the Preds take Barkov.
That leaves Seth Jones still at the table when the Hurricanes make their selection at number five.
What should the Canes do, stick with the plan and take a forward? They have mentioned that they like Elias Lindholm, and Sean Monahan is a safe pick. But Jones is supposed to be a one of a kind defenseman.
The scouting services speak highly of him.
At Red Line Report, we have Seth Jones positioned atop the entire draft board, and he had to be pretty special to earn top honors in a year filled with a bevy of flashy forwards. Jones represents as complete a package as we've seen in any defenseman over the past decade. With his mix of size, puck skills, natural athleticism and poise, Jones can dominate and take over games at both ends of the ice, and has an impact on the game in every aspect.
If Seth Jones has a weakness in his game, I do not see it. He is a special defense prospect, and as I outlined in the previous section, he nearly made me break my tendency of preferring an elite forward to a defenseman. Jones is a high-end (arguably an elite) skater, who moves at a unique and unusual level for such a large man. With his very large wingspan and mobility, Jones closes gaps with high efficiency, and he can be difficult to get around. His best trait is his clearly elite hockey sense. Jones was making pro-level reads when he was 16, showing he was, and still is, advanced way beyond his years. He makes a multitude of good defensive plays with positioning, stick work and anticipation. He seems to always to be a step ahead of everyone else. This is evident in his offensive ability as well. He knows when to pinch, and he can exhibit high levels of offensive skill, creativity and vision. Jones has a cannon from the point, which can make him a very dangerous player on the power play. He is a big man with a ton of weapons. Finally, his size is a tremendous asset. He stands around 6'4'', and while he isn't a mean player, he takes his checks with the body. He projects as a top-end physical player.
Now keep in mind that drafting defensemen early is a tricky business. There have been many more flops than success stories, but this could be a unique opportunity for the organization to draft a franchise blueliner, arguably something the Hurricanes have never had.
Although, Lindholm and Monahan are excellent players. Some have called Lindholm "elite".
What do you think the Hurricanes should do, if the situation arises? Who would you pick?