With the grind of his rookie Western Hockey League season, the All-American Top Prospects Game, the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and the World Junior Championship, it’s understandable if the top-ranked prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft is a little weary.
Turns out the only thing Portland Winterhawks blueliner Seth Jones may be a little exhausted with is answering questions.
It’s okay though, media members. Jones understands with his profile they’ve got to be asked – especially with the bizarre lineage the projected first overall pick come June has. Having former NBA journeyman Ronald ‘Popeye’ Jones as his father, the 18-year-old knows the question is going to be a hot topic.
“That’s the question that I get the most,” Jones said. “Just coming from my family background, it’s the question that if I was in the press or media I would probably ask the same thing so I don’t blame them.”
Jones also doesn’t hold it against reporters if they dig deep in an attempt to fabricate some rivalry stories between he and Nathan MacKinnon, two of the draft’s premier talents heading into June’s event.
After all, teammate Ty Rattie is already stirring the pot between the two standouts after Jones overtook MacKinnon in most projections a month ago.
“I haven’t talked to (MacKinnon) since then but he’s good friends with Ty Rattie,” Jones said. “I guess they had a Facebook chat a little bit and were chatting at each other and he told Ratts to tell me to quit hogging all the rankings. It’s just a little fun back and forth.”
If Jones chose to describe his draft season with that adjective, he’d be significantly understating.
Participating in every conceivable draft exhibition and winning gold at the World Juniors as a part of Team USA, the six-foot-four, 206-pound defenseman has had a more than memorable tour of duty this season.
And with all apologies to his aforementioned activities, few experiences will trump Ufa, Russia for Jones.
“World Juniors for sure, but all three of those events are all great events and I’ll remember them forever,” Jones said. “But winning that gold medal at the World Juniors in Russia fantastic. It was a once in a lifetime type thing.”
Perhaps the only event that could rival the World Juniors for Jones would be a trip to the Memorial Cup. On a Winterhawks club that currently leads the WHL with a 45-8-1-2 record, Jones’ attention is more on making the trip to Saskatoon to earn one of hockey’s most difficult prizes.
And less on a trip to New Jersey for the 2013 NHL Draft.
“You know, it’s pretty easy,” he said. “You see all this stuff and you see all this hype around you but my goal and everyone else’s goal in the locker room is to win a Memorial Cup this year and we’re taking it step-by-step.”
Once both goals are accomplished, then and only then will the weary Jones get a chance to nab a rest.