Jun 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Seth Jones is interviewed during a press conference for top prospects for the upcoming 2013 NHL Draft at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Avalanche Could Pass On Seth Jones: What It Means For The Panthers

It appears that the Colorado Avalanche will not be taking defenseman Seth Jones with their number one pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. According to Joe Sakic, the Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations, the more likely scenarios have Colorado either trading their number one pick or selecting a forward.

“If we do pick first, we’re leaning more toward one of those three forwards” Sakic told the Denver Post. The three forwards he is referring to are Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, and Alexander Barkov. This news comes as a surprise as the 18 year old Jones has been the consensus top rated prospect for the past couple of months.

Just about every mock draft leading up to this year’s draft has Seth Jones going first followed by MacKinnon and Drouin interchangeably in the two and three spots. Barkov has been expected to fall to the fourth pick. This projection seemed airtight about a month ago but it makes sense that we are seeing this wavering of certainty as teams begin to put the young players under the microscope leading up to the draft.

The question arises as to how seriously we can take Joe Sakic‘s statements. There is the distinct possibility that Sakic is making these comments to divert the rest of the league from Colorado’s true intentions. He may also be trying to force the hand of teams interested in trading for the number one pick. If the Avalanche select one of the top three forwards as Sakic suggests, teams with picks two through five would have their draft plans thrown wildly out of whack. Sakic’s comments could be an attempt to put seeds of doubt in other team’s minds and this doubt could cause a team to panic and try to trade up to get their guy. Or Sakic’s comments could be sincere and the Avalanche really may pass on Jones. That is the beauty of the time leading up to the draft, there is all sorts of speculation but we will not get any answers until June 30th when everything goes down.

Jun 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Nathan MacKinnon is interviewed during a press conference for top prospects for the upcoming 2013 NHL Draft at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

What would it mean for the Panthers if the Avalanche pass on Jones? It would certainly put Florida is a very interesting position. If Colorado does not pick Seth Jones at number one would the Panthers jump at the chance to take the highest rated player in the draft? Or are the top trio of forwards really, as Sakic put it, “too good to pass up”?

Operating under the assumption that Jones will go number one, I have grown very accustomed to the thought of Florida either taking MacKinnon and Drouin. It is easy to fall in love with the draft’s three top forwards and their immense superstar potential. Jones may be the best player in the draft but defense is just not as sexy as offense and a player like MacKinnon, Drouin or even Barkov would generate far more excitement in South Florida than a defenseman such as Jones would.

If Jones is available when the Panthers select at two, I would say they would have to take him. Florida has a wealth of young prospects but their group of young defenders is certainly thinner than their group of young forwards. Adding Jones to their blue line would go a long way in steadying the Panthers’ defensive core for years to come. Panther fans have warmly embraced the thought of throwing MacKinnon/Drouin on a line with Jonathan Huberdeau and watching them dazzle the league so it would be a tiny bit disappointing to see Florida select Jones but it would be the smart pick and the right pick for the future of the franchise.

Sakic’s comments whether truthful or not serve to add fuel to the fires of speculation and regardless of what happens at the draft it is sure to be entertaining as hell. We here at The Rat Trick will be on top of all the draft related news as it breaks so be sure to follow us on twitter and like us on Facebook. Also feel free to share your thoughts about Sakic’s comments and what will happen at the draft in the comments section below.

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