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Seth Jones will be the top pick? Not so fast…

May 21, 2013, 9:49 AM EDT

Seth Jones #3 of Team McClanahan skates in warmups prior to his game against Team Housley at the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at the First Niagara Center on September 29, 2012 in Buffalo, New York.
(September 28, 2012 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

There has been plenty of speculation that the Colorado Avalanche will use the number one pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft on defenseman Seth Jones. The chief scout of the Colorado Avalanche, Rick Pracey, thinks that might not be the case.

“The No. 1 spot, it’s open,” Pracey said, according to the Denver Post. “You know, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin and Alexander Barkov, and you can go into other guys. There are others out there – Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm – that are very, very interesting players.

“It’s by far not a slam dunk. It’s not one player that’s running away with this thing.”

Some might argue that drafting a top defenseman like Jones would make more sense for the Avalanche than grabbing another skilled center like MacKinnon. However, it doesn’t sound like the Avalanche are going to look at their current roster when deciding who to take.

“We have to be looking at the best player available,” Pracey said. “When you’re holding the No. 1 pick, you still have to maintain that philosophy. We’re after not only the most talented kid right now, but long into the future. We hope this is a 10-15 year player for us.”

MacKinnon, Drouin, and Jones are all among the prospects competing in the 2013 Memorial Cup. After that, they’ll participate in the NHL Combine on May 27. The Avalanche also plan to visit their homes during the interviewing process.

“It’s kind of rare when all the top prospects are still playing like they are now, so it’s good for our staff to get to see them more,” Pracey said. “But we have to get to know them better as people. We have a tough decision ahead of us.”

  1. timmylaz99 - May 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Smokescreen!!!

    • missthemexpos - May 21, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      Why do you need a smokescreen when you have the first choice?

      • 4thquartermagic - May 21, 2013 at 12:53 PM

        Happens every year. Me thinks its a tactic used by scouting personnel to cover their arses. Shows they’re doing their due diligence and gives them plausible deniability.

        Should the top pick not work out, they can tell their next boss, “Hey I told them to select (blank).”

      • ThatGuy - May 21, 2013 at 1:24 PM

        Say word leaks that Florida is dead set on MacKinnon. By hinting that you may take him, or not saying your dead set on someone leaves open the oppurtunity to move back a spot and pick up another pick. Unlikely to happen, but its the reason the team with the Pick doesn’t announce ahead of time who they are picking.

  2. valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    We can be assured that Roy will have his say in the matter. He knows MacKinnon and Drouin very well. It is very difficult to compare a D man with forwards, however, when selecting a player between these three you have to ask which on of these players will have the biggest impact. And this is not an exact science. Good luck!

    • 4thquartermagic - May 21, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      Good point on the Roy/Mackinnon/Drouin connection. Had the Avs not already been solid up front I think Roy could very well point them in a different direction.

      Jones isn’t a sure thing and his impact may take 3-5 years to be seen on an every game basis, but the Avs putrid defense can not be ignored.

      • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 21, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        You are absolutely correct. The ROI for a D men usually takes a little longer. Do the AVs have the luxury of waiting, or can the next coach set up a tight D system? No doubt Roy can put in place such a system to make up for the Avs D issues. I could be wrong, but I would think the mantra for the Avs would be ‘win now’. Especially for Sakic and the next coach because neither may be around in 5 years.

  3. 950003cups - May 21, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Colorado was 26th in G/G and 27th in GA/G. They sucked in both departments. But with the stacked talent they have up front, it’s only a matter of time before a team with Landeskog, Duchene, Stasny, and O’Reily starts scoring. that starts by keeping the pick out of your own zone. They’ll take the best available defenseman in many years who also happens to be a Colorado native kid who just won a WJC Team USA gold medal.

    • jpelle82 - May 21, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      he’s from texas

      • 950003cups - May 21, 2013 at 2:49 PM

        Seth Jones moved to Colorado at 5 years old. He’s as much a Texan as Carmelo Anthony is a New Yorker. Here’s his Wiki info..

        “Jones began playing hockey at the age of five when the family was living in Denver, Colorado, while his father was playing for the Nuggets. Justin wanted to play inline hockey with friends. Justin and Seth were given inline skates and in the winter received ice hockey skates. Not knowing much about ice hockey, Popeye asked Hockey Hall of Famer Joe Sakic, then playing in Denver with the Colorado Avalanche, for advice to help his sons become better players after running into him at the Pepsi Center, where both of their respective teams played. Sakic told Popeye to have his sons work on their skating, knowing they would likely have size and natural athleticism. As a result Seth took figure skating classes for a year before he began playing organized hockey at age six.”

      • jpelle82 - May 21, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        his dad played one season for the nuggets, he moved back to texas when he was 12 when his dad was done with the wizards and celtics. he spent 6 years of his life away from texas, where he was born and lives – 1 year in denver dude.

      • jpelle82 - May 21, 2013 at 8:24 PM

        i lived in philadelphia for 6 months when i was 5 yrs old….i learned how to write sentences in kindergarten while i was there so i must be from philly now

    • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 21, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Like when they took Erik Johnson and thought they had a great one that will be a corner stone?
      Or like when the Kings took Jack Johnson and thought they were getting a corner stone?
      Or maybe when the Kings got burned again taking Thomas Hickey 4th overall a couple years later in 2007.
      Or like the Caps following Hickey with Alzner 5th overall.

      Hey Devils fan, how’s Adam Larsson progressing? 4th overall
      As poorly as Eric Gusbranson for the Panthers? 3rd overall

      Recent draft history of Dmen has been BAD, Drew Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo has been the rare exceptions, while scouting have been Nailing the Forwards.

      • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 21, 2013 at 12:50 PM

        I hope Jones becoming one of the leagues great D men, but Big Dmen drafted early have been a risky proposition lately. There is much more risk with Jones than the year younger MacKinnon.

      • 4thquartermagic - May 21, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        Less risk and less of a pay off as well.

        If you can find a cornerstone defenseman, you have a huge advantage over majority of teams in the league. They just don’t come around too often.

        You have to make the Jones pick and cross your fingers.

      • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 21, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        Less of a pay off? Talking about a kid who is drawing comparisons to where Tavares was at this age. Talking about the consensus #1 pick for the past 2 years who only dropped to #2 recently.
        Duncan Keith and Chara were 2nd round picks, they are corner stones.

        There were plenty of yas telling everyone that jack and Erik Johnson were can’t miss. They were going to be cornerstone for Team USA for a long time. Now, they are failed picked that their teams wish they could have back.

        So just remember that in 5 years when MacKinnon is just as good as Tavares was at 22, because Jones had better be looking like an elite Dman.

      • 4thquartermagic - May 21, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        Your point is well taken. Mackinnon could very well become an outstanding player. But the talent disparity between Mackinnon and Duchene, Landeskog, Orielly will be much smaller then one between Seth Jones and EVERYONE the Avs have on D right now.

        Point being, Mackinnon’s development would be at the expense of one of the promising forwards the Avs have already.

        Whereas the void Jones could fill at defense would be a much bigger pay off for the team as its currently constructed.

      • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        Ya, but like the head scout suggested, I wouldn’t worry about today needs. Who knows what the Avs need 5 years from now? I’d hate to see the Avs pick another Johnson and have it loom over the franchise like the Blues passing on Toews.
        If they do make Jones the pick Avs fans and media had better prepare themselves for a long and slow process.
        Chara was so slow to develop the Isles sent him to the Sens.
        Pronger didn’t progress fast enough so they sent him to the Blues for Shanny.
        Hedman was being called a bust right up until this year, and now he looks like he’s turning the corner.
        Erik Gudbranson is a 6’5 pylon right now for the Panthers.
        I sincerely hope Avs fans are not lost on this fact, that Jones may look as bad for a few years before learning the NHL game, and to have patience.

      • 4thquartermagic - May 21, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        Good stuff here. And who’s to say Johnson doesn’t turn the corner next year. He’s still young and like the examples you mentioned, it takes time.

        I do believe that Jones will be given time to develop by the team and fans. Seth could be coming at the right time. Avs are far enough removed from success that the expectations won’t be sky high from the start. Couple that with the fans faith in newly promoted Sakic, and you have a recipe for patience. Fans have reason to believe in front office for first time in nearly a decade.

      • edwelsh8 - May 21, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        The Jets are pretty happy with Bogosian and the Bruins seem to like how Hamilton is progressing. Ask Tampa about Hedman.

        Meanwhile, how’s Nikita Filatov doing? Or Ryan Johansen (a healthy scratch the other night in the AHL)? But at least Sam Gagner (one pick after Alzner) has developed into an elite centerman….oh wait, he hasn’t.

        All draft picks are risky, whether defense or forward.

      • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 21, 2013 at 1:39 PM

        The Jets are pretty happy with Boogy? I tell ya not as happy as the Blues for taking him rather than Pietrangelo. But I left him out because he’s not a big D man like the players I mentioned. Big tall Dmen take a Long time and are hit and miss.
        And there is no risk in MacKinnon, he’s a NHL player at 17, it’s obvious and has been obvious for a long time.

      • edwelsh8 - May 21, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        Zach Bogosian is 6’3″ and 215 lbs. Clearly you don’t know what you are talking about.

      • edwelsh8 - May 21, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        And you mentioned Thomas Hickey…all 5’10” of him. I guess you classify him as a big dman?

      • 950003cups - May 21, 2013 at 2:52 PM

        Larsson looks very talented. He just needs to put on some muscle. For some reason he got scratched a lot by DeBoer. Who knows why that was. But it wasn’t for lack of talent. The kid is very good. The fans are happy with him. Let’s see what DeBoer does with him this year.

  4. tru2joelu4eva - May 21, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    i hate this stupid team. i’m moving to calgary.

  5. bcisleman - May 21, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    The team w/ the #1 pick ALWAYS does this to keep some juice in the story. Guarantee you they have already decided who they want. Be astonished if its anyone but Jones.

    • jpelle82 - May 21, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      ya i dont get why they bother saying anything, i guess its just fun to mess with whoever has the #2 pick….especially if you won the lottery and screwed them out of the deserved #1.

      • jb8588 - May 21, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        Agreed. Isles did the same thing several years back when they took Tavares with the #1 pick, claimed Tavares wasn’t guaranteed to be picked by them, etc. It’s the smart thing to do, because if another team who’s drafting right behind them badly wants somebody you may not want with that first pick, then you could move down a pick or two and get a sweet package on top of that.

  6. tfaltin - May 21, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    The Oilers did this with Yakupov. Hopefully the Avalanche are smarter than the Oilers and realize they have franchise forwards, and need a cornerstone defenseman. Though to make that statement completely fair, we’ll see what Ryan Murray becomes for the Jackets 5 years down the line compared to where Yakupov is. My guess is more.

    • 4thquartermagic - May 21, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Exactly. Cornerstone defensemen are worth their weight in gold.

      Avs taking a franchise forward would be a luxury pick that a team with such bad defense can’t afford to make..

    • 4thquartermagic - May 21, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Exactly. Cornerstone defensemen are worth their weight in gold.

      Avs taking a franchise forward would be a luxury pick that a team with such bad defense can’t afford to make..

  7. ray2013 - May 21, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Do people value Jones’ projected ceiling (which I hear is Pronger 2.0) to offer a king’s ransom trade trade into the #1 slot? You can’t find cornerstone d-men on the free agent market very often, and you can’t trade for one very often. You have to draft one if you want one.

    That seems to be the game the Avalanche is playing. Wow us, and we’ll trade down. If the Oilers offered Yakupov and this year’s #1, would the Avalanche bite, for example?

    • ray2013 - May 21, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      *offer a king’s ransom to trade

    • ray2013 - May 21, 2013 at 4:45 PM

      I only suggest this because last year the Oilers played the same game, then the local media spent a few weeks talking about what type of trade offer would be worthwhile to trade out of the first spot. What would it take to move the pick?

      Leave the door open.

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