During our broadcast of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft party from Dave & Busters, Opry Mills, I put the following question to Predators GM David Poile. “Had you picked first overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, would you still have taken Seth Jones.” Without hesitation. “Yes, absolutely” said Poile. A candid appraisal of Jones’ abilities as a player.
In fact, the pundits were nearly unanimous in their assessment that Jones was the best player in the 2013 field. So that Poile and company were able to capture the No. 1 Player with the No. 4 Pick was no small coup. In any event, Seth Jones is Predators’ property. But look a little closer and this transaction has a significant impact in other areas where the club intends to improve.
Heading into the off-season, the Predators made it known they are in the market to get bigger, add offense and acquire a top four defenseman. It remains to be seen but, by selecting Jones, the Predators may have checked two of those three boxes.
If he is who they say he is, all 6-4 of Seth Jones should make an impact early in the 2013-14 season. Those that scout for a living state that he has a tremendous skill set and that he thinks the game far beyond his 18 years.
So if you’re Poile and you believe you just got better at the blue line, you can now turn your attention to the forward position. But consider this.
Before you acquire Jones, you’re looking to add a top four defenseman through free agency by signing someone like a Rob Scuderi of the LA Kings for instance. But that’s probably a four to five million dollar cap hit. Jones, on the other hand, will sign for the entry-level maximum of roughly $950,000.
Why is that significant? Poile just found approximately $4 million he never knew he had. And that could translate into a marked upgrade in terms of the type of forward you target in free agency. i.e. Daniel Briere rather than David Clarkson. Or perhaps the net savings allows the Predators to add two impact forwards rather than just one. Viktor Stalberg and Clarkson?
In any event, the acquisition is sure to have put the Predators organization in a much more aggressive posture heading into 2013 free agency. Interesting and exciting times ahead, no doubt.
See you around the rink.