Nashville Predators general manager David Poile, who holds the same role for the United States for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, said he and his staff have trimmed their targeted group of defensemen to 12, and that Predators' 2013 first-round pick Seth Jones is among that group.
"He absolutely does," Poile said in an interview Tuesday with Sportsnet's Fan 590 radio when asked if Jones had a chance of making the team. "We're going to take eight defensemen and we're down to approximately 12 and [Jones] is one of them."
Jones, the fourth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, has two goals and six assists in 20 games and leads all rookie defenseman with an average ice time of 24:04 per game. He has spent most of the season on the Predators' top pair with Shea Weber, although he recently was pushed back to second pair with Kevin Klein.
Jones also was one of 18 defensemen invited to USA Hockey's National Team Orientation Camp in August.
"I might be getting a little prejudiced because I get to see him every night, but I have other guys see him, and what are you looking for in a defenseman?" Poile said. "The size, the skating, penalty killing, power play, success on the big ice surface, winning the gold medal in the  World Juniors … all you can say against Seth Jones right now is he's 19 years old and he doesn't have the experience.
"Other than that how does he compare to these other players? To me that's how we have to make the judgment."
Jones had seven points in seven games for the U.S. team that won gold in January in Ufa, Russia, and he might not be the only player from that team that will be making a return trip to the country in February 2014.
Poile said Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk also remains in consideration for a spot on the Olympic team. He had eight points in seven games at the WJC. This season he's second on the Canadiens with 15 points in 21 games.
"He's in his second year," Poile said. "He's only 19 years old but he's a really, really good player. We're not averse to choosing him over more veteran players if he's the best player."