NASHVILLE – Nashville Predators rookie defenseman Seth Jones missed earning a spot on the U.S. team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics but he has accepted a spot to play for his country at the IIHF 2014 World Championship in Belarus.
With a strong start to the season, Jones, the fourth pick at the 2013 NHL Draft, had an opportunity to earn a spot on the Olympic team, for which Predators general manager David Poile served as GM, but a subpar month of December derailed his chances.
With top American defensemen Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers and Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik of the Pittsburgh Penguins headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it makes sense that a young player like Jones would land a spot for the Worlds.
"That will be a pretty cool thing to be a part of," Jones said.
The 19-year-old said he wants to work on being more consistent. He has six goals and 19 assists and a minus-24 rating and 22 penalty minutes in 75 NHL games. Jones has averaged 19:40 of time on ice, tied for sixth among all rookies. He missed five games with a concussion.
"It's been a great season," he said. "Unfortunately we're not in a playoff spot. I think personally I learned a lot this year. I think it's a great organization, I'm very happy I'm here and it was a definitely great experience to be able to play almost a full season and to go through what that feels like."
The world tournament starts May 6. Before then, Jones said he might catch some Indiana Pacers games in the first round of the NBA playoffs; his father, Popeye Jones, serves an assistant coach with the Pacers.
Here are the projected lineups:
Injured: Patrick Eaves
Scratched: Michael Del Zotto