The surprise of the early part of the NHL Draft — Seth Jones falling to Nashville at No. 4 overall — has left a chip on Jones’ shoulder.
“You definitely want to prove them wrong and you definitely want to show them why they should have picked you,” Jones said after Colorado, Florida and Tampa Bay all passed on selecting him. “That’s not my only goal next year, but it’s definitely on my list.”
Jones, the No. 1-rated North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, was thought to be a virtual lock for a top-three spot. Preds GM David Poile — who didn’t figure he’d have a chance to pick Jones — couldn’t stop raving about the WHL Portland blueliner prior to the draft.
“Absolutely, 100 percent. 110 percent,” Poile said earlier this week, when asked if the Preds would take Jones. “I think he’s the best player in the draft.
“He’s the whole package, He has size, he has great skating, he has offensive abilities. I certainly think he’s going to be an aggressive player.”
It’s unclear exactly why Jones fell.
Colorado was clearly enamored with Nathan MacKinnon at the No. 1 spot, and Florida thought highly enough of Aleksander Barkov to use the No. 2 pick on him (after a “healthy debate,” according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.)
Tampa Bay opted for Jonathan Drouin — considered to be the best playmaker in the draft — at No. 3, leaving Nashville the golden opportunity to draft the guy they wanted all along.
“He can be a Norris Trophy winner,” Poile said. “That’s not to say the other guys couldn’t be equally as good, but that’s how I would have him — as the best player in the draft.”
Nashville also has to be thrilled about the Jones-Phil Housley reunion. Housley, who coached Jones on the gold medal-winning American World Junior team in 2013, was hired as an assistant coach in Nashville earlier this month.
And as for Jones? He’s happy to be going to Music City.
“I love country [music], to be honest,” he said. “I listen to it a lot, actually. “