With 18 days to go until the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida, a second member of the Jones family is seeking to join the ranks of prospects selected into hockey’s highest level. Caleb Jones, the younger brother of Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones and son of former NBA player Ronald Jerome "Popeye" Jones, will learn his draft selection on either June 26 or 27 - just two years after Seth went No. 4 overall to the Preds.
During the 2014-15 season, NashvillePredators.com spoke with Seth about his 18-year-old brother, the upcoming Draft and what it might be like if the brothers get to some day play together in the NHL.
What tips have you given Caleb on developing as a pro?
“I skate with him every summer and we work pretty closely together during that time on the ice. He worked out quite a bit with me this summer (in 2014) when we stayed here in Nashville. It was good to see him develop on his own some. I don’t have too much to tell him, it’s not like I’m a grizzled veteran. But his draft is this summer, and I’m just telling him to take it one step at a time, don’t get caught up in the rankings and this and that, but just go play hockey, play the way you know how to play and don’t try to do too much - just little things like that.”
You don’t get to see Caleb play that much, but what’s it been like seeing him play with the United States National Team Development Program under-18 team?
“It’s been interesting. I think he might have a slightly different route than me, but I think he’s developing really well there. Going into the U.S. program, they really focus on your development there and that’s kind of the purpose. I think he’s gotten better as a player.
Looking a few years into the future, what would it be like if the two of you had the chance to both be Nashville Predators?
“That would be pretty awesome. There are a couple places like that, with Carolina and the Staal brothers [Eric and Jordan]. That’s got to be pretty cool, to [play in the NHL] with your brother. Hopefully, it could work out like that - maybe or maybe not. But either way, I think he’s a pretty good player and I think he’s going to get an opportunity to play.”
What’s a funny story that comes to mind in relation to the two of you playing hockey together?
“He’s kind of a quiet, confident kid. In the summers for instance, he thinks he can shoot harder than me, skate faster than me and hit harder than me. We’re pretty competitive. So whenever he wants to battle, I battle him pretty hard. He’s going to be just as tall as me and weigh more than me. So I’ve got to keep putting him in his place while I still can.”
Here now is a recent draft profile on Caleb Jones for NHL.com written by the site’s Deputy Managing Editor Adam Kimelman. Entitled: “Caleb Jones Working to Move Out of Brother's Shadow” the piece can be seen in its original form here.
Defenseman Caleb Jones will follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones, next season by playing with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
But Caleb, 18, said he's a lot more than Seth's younger brother.
"I just try to be my own player, work hard every day," he said. "I'm not Seth's brother, I'm Caleb, my own person and I'm trying to be my own person."
Jones had six goals and 24 points in 65 games with the United States National Team Development Program under-18 team this season. He really stood out for the U.S. at the 2015 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Switzerland this April with five points and a plus-6 rating in seven games to help the U.S. win the gold medal.
The 5-foot-11, 194-pound left-shot defender is No. 115 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2015 NHL Draft.
"The first thing I liked was how much he improved as the year went on," David Gregory of Central Scouting said. "He added dimensions to his game that I didn't see as an underage player [in 2013-14]. He became much more confident carrying the puck and creating off the rush, which is something he'll need at the next level."
Said Jones, "I think I've proven myself throughout my year. I think at the [World Under-18 Championship] I really came out and played well and showed teams I'm my own player and that I'm a good player in my own right. Here I did the same things. I feel confident in my ability as a player."
While Caleb said he's a different player and person than Seth, he certainly was willing to listen to any advice his brother could give from his draft year experience, especially at the Combine. Seth Jones was Central Scouting's top-ranked North American skater for the 2013 draft and was selected by the Predators with the No. 4 pick.
"It's unbelievable," Caleb said. "It helps out so much. He tells you what to expect so there's no surprises when you get here. There's a few different things [from when Seth went through it], but for the most part he helped me out and told me to be myself and everything should go smoothly.
"He just said have fun. That was his biggest thing. It's going to be a fun year. Don't take it for granted because it goes by really quick. Enjoy the draft and all the processes with it."