Defensive prospect extraordinaire Seth Jones tops Central Scouting's final rankings, just released by the NHL on Wednesday morning. Jones has put together a spectacular rookie season in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, with 14 goals and 42 assists in 61 games.
The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, the 6-4, 205-pound defenseman could be the first hockey player from the Dallas, Texas area to be selected No. 1 overall in the NHL draft. Growing up in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Jones rose to prominence through the Dallas Stars junior program and then the US National Team Development Program and the U.S. National Under-18 team.
Forward Nathan MacKinnon from the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL sits second in the rankings, after posing 32 goals and 75 points in just 44 games. MacKinnon suffered a knee injury that limited his ability to hit the ice for a number of games this season, although the injury is not expected to affect his standing as a likely top three pick in the draft.
A fantastic playmaker who is more physical than you'd expect for a player of his size (6-0, 182), MacKinnon has been at the top of the draft charts all season long for his ability to score some amazing goals and make nearly-impossible plays from anywhere on the ice.
In the international skater rankings, Aleksander Barkov sits atop the CSS list after a big season in Finland's top league. Playing for Tappara of SM-Liiga, Barkov put up 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games. A smooth skating playmaking center who is perhaps the most confident player in the draft, Barkov shined on the international stage as well with three goals and seven points in six games in the latest World Junior Championships.
The top ten North American skaters:
1. Seth Jones, D, Portland (WHL)
2. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
3. Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
4. Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
5. Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa (OHL)
6. Hunter Shinkaruk, C/LW, Medicine Hat (WHL)
7. Valentin Zykov, LW, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)
8. Frederik Gauthier, C, Rimouski (QMJHL)
9. Mirco Mueller, D, Everett (WHL)
10. Anthony Mantha, RW, Val-D'or (QMJHL)
Top ten international skaters:
1. Aleksander Barkov, C, Tappara (Finland)
2. Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chelyabinsk (Russia)
3. Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas (Sweden)
4. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS (Finland)
5. Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgarden (Sweden-2)
6. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Malmo (Sweden-2)
7. Jacob de la Rose, LW, Leksand (Sweden-2)
8. Robert Hagg, D, Modo Jr. (Sweden-Jr)
9. Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Kalpa (Finland)
10. Pavel Buchnevich, LW, Cherepovets 2 (Russia-Jr)