In 2009 the Silvertips had two picks in the first round of the bantam draft, thanks to the trade of Kyle Beach to Lethbridge. At the time, that draft was not considered very deep at the top. Picking eighth and 11th overall, the Tips seemed just out of reach of the obvious elite talent.
So when Everett’s second pick came around, the Tips decided to swing for the fences. Seth Jones was a player already being hyped up by the national media, and as the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones he had a built-in back story. Jones was considered a top-five talent for the bantam draft, but questions about whether the Dallas resident would choose the WHL route or the NCAA route scared teams off.
But since Everett already had a defenseman Nick Walters in the fold at eighth overall, the Tips took a chance. And as we head into Jones’ 18-year-old season we’re still waiting to see whether that chance pays off.
The descriptions I hear about Jones sound a lot like current Tips star Ryan Murray — not necessarily the flashiest player, but great hockey sense and decision making — except he’s bigger at 6-foot-3. As a late birthdate Jones isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2014, and already there’s a buzz suggesting he could go first overall.
But here we are in April and we still don’t know where Jones will play next season. His two-year stint with the U.S. NTDP is just about done. He’s taken an official visit to the University of North Dakota, but has not committed. Recent reports say Jones won’t make his choice until after competing for the U.S. at the U-18 World Championships, which take place April 12-22 in the Czech Republic. His father was quoted saying Jones was 50-50 on where to play. I know former Tips general manager Doug Soetaert spent a lot of time courting Jones and his family. I have no idea how Soetaert’s dismissal will affect Jones’ decision, but I have to think it will at least be taken into consideration.
Needless to say, whether Jones is on the team could have a major effect on Everett’s 2012-13 season. But, unlike with Murray, at least the Tips should receive a resolution on Jones’ status sooner rather than later.
On a personal note, I’ve been salivating over the possibility of seeing of a Murray-Jones defensive pairing for years now. I know as a reporter I’m supposed to be as unbiased and objective as possible, but how much fun would it be watching a pair of possible top-five NHL draft picks play together day-in and day-out? It would work perfectly, too, because Murray is a lefty and Jones is a righty. The chances of this happening are slim as the Tips would need two things to fall in their favor. But hey, as long as there’s a chance there’s still hope.
Whether or not Jones comes to Everett, the Tips have some exciting prospects who will be joining the team next season. General manager Garry Davidson has talked about needing to increase the skill level on the team, and it just so happens that the best skill players in Everett’s system may be those who weren’t on the team this season.
At the top of the list are three forwards who have already signed education contracts with the Tips. Carson Stadnyk, who will be 17, probably could have made the team this season. Ty Mappin (16) rivaled Stadnyk as the most-skilled young player at Everett’s training camp last August. Both already made their WHL debuts, and both received positive reviews for their cameos. Stadnyk’s midget hockey teammate Dawson Leedahl (16) had a slow start as he dealt with injury, but picked it up big time as the season progressed. All three are still playing as their teams advanced to the Telus Cup, the midget equivalent of the Memorial Cup.
The Tips have one more big-time skill prospect in Geordie Maguire (17). Maguire led the Manitoba Midget AAA league in scoring, but to my knowledge has not signed with Everett yet. He also saw his production fall off during the playoffs, so I don’t know what happened there.
On defense, the future is less promising. The team has a pair of stay-at-home types who began the season with Everett, but were eventually sent down, in Darian Henry (18) and Tye Hand (17). The Tips also signed Michael Zipp (16, stats not available), another stay-at-home d-man. However, the Tips need puck movers, and I’m not aware of any highly-regarded puck-moving defensemen in Everett’s system.
In goal, the door is once again open for Andy Desautels (18) to claim a roster spot.
So that concludes the wrap-up series on the blog. Thanks for sticking with me through it all, and thanks for taking a little time away from your Easter to stop by today. Hope it was a happy Easter.
Although regular coverage of the team on the blog will be scaled back, I get the feeling there will be plenty to write about this offseason, possibly beginning later this month with Jones’ decision. Then there will be plenty to talk about with the bantam draft, NHL draft, import draft and any other changes. So make sure you stop by once in a while to see what’s up. Until then, take care!