Dec 5, 2013
Predators rookie defenseman Seth Jones has seen his placement rise back to Nashville’s top defense pairing over the last handful of games. Originating from a loss of both captain Shea Weber and Kevin Klein, Jones played with fellow defenseman Roman Josi during their absence and continued to do so despite the return of Klein against the Hurricanes in this evening’s 5-2 loss at Bridgestone Arena.
Only 19 years old and Nashville’s fourth pick in this years most recent entry draft, Jones has averaged 28:21 time on ice over his past three games and played 30:43 against the Flyers this past Saturday, marking the second time this season (and in his career) that he has eclipsed the 30 minute mark in time on ice. Most defensemen in the NHL rarely, if ever, play that much in one game, yet both Trotz and Jones never could have expected that he would have seen as much time as he has only 29 games into his career.
“I’ve been playing a lot more minutes than I originally thought I was going to. We have a couple of injuries right now so the sooner they come back, the better for our team,” said Jones.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be playing him 30 minutes a night as a 19 year old,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “There’s not too many guys who get that opportunity.”
Jones has three goals and seven assists so far in his NHL career, good for ninth in the Predators lineup. Nashville has struggled recently finding the back of the net, with only five goals in their last four game. However, Jones knows that it’s not the chances that haven’t been coming for the Predators, but maybe a lapse in their approach.
“We’re definitely focused on scoring goals and we do get a lot of chances every game. We’re so focused on getting those chances, we forget to put it in the net sometimes. We’re fully capable of scoring every game, but it all comes down to bearing down when you have the puck on your stick,” said Jones, who had three of Nashville’s 21 attempted shots on net, including an assist, against the Hurricanes.
Yet, even with the return of Klein tonight, Jones is still a very important member of Nashville’s defense. With his 24:40 time on ice against Carolina, four minutes more than any other Predators player in the game, it’s telling how much Nashville relies on the rookie defenseman night in and night out. But is he being overworked?
“I feel pretty good. I mean playing 29 or 30 minutes in juniors is a whole lot different than playing it here. It’s definitely more difficult [at the NHL level], but I feel fine,” said Jones.
As the season carries on, the Predators continue to learn more and more about Seth Jones.
“There’s times when he looks 29 and there’s times when he looks 19. He’s still learning the game. There’s times when he wants to take the foot off the gas pedal and the league eats him up. This league is a very good league and it can humble you very quickly,” said Trotz. “He’s done a great job. There’s some youth to his game and there’s a lot of maturity in his game, too”
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua