By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — At the 2009 bantam draft, the Everett Silvertips swung for the fences, selecting Seth Jones in the first round.
On Monday that swing officially became a whiff.
The Silvertips pulled the parachute on the Jones gamble Monday when they dealt his negotiating rights to the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for a conditional bantam draft pick. The nature of the conditions were not disclosed.
Everett retains the rights to Jones, a potential superstar defenseman who was selected 11th overall in 2009. However, Tips general manager Garry Davidson said a Jones representative informed him that Jones has no interest in playing in Everett.
Davidson said Jones’ representative did not give any reasons why Jones would not play for the Tips.
Monday’s deal gives Portland a window with which to attempt to sway Jones, who spent the previous two seasons playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program, to come to the WHL. The length of the window also was not disclosed. If Portland convinces Jones to play for the Winterhawks next season, another deal will need to be negotiated to transfer Jones’ rights.
“It certainly is disappointing,” Davidson said about Jones’ decision not to play in Everett. “This was part of what I inherited here (when Davidson was hired in February to replace Doug Soetaert), and I’m not privy to what happened before my arrival. But in saying that, you have to play with the cards you’re dealt.”
Jones is perhaps the top prospect in his age group in the world. The Dallas, Texas, native and son of former NBA player Popeye Jones is heading into both his 18-year-old season and his NHL draft season. Early prognostications suggest the 6-foot-3, 201-pound Jones could be the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft.
Jones had similar hype behind him at the 2009 bantam draft. However, he fell to 11th overall because of questions about whether he would choose to play in the Western Hockey League or the NCAA. Everett, which already selected defenseman Nick Walters eighth overall, took a chance and picked Jones with its second first-round selection, a pick acquired when the team traded Kyle Beach to Lethbridge.
Soetaert, who selected Jones, spent the past three years courting Jones, and at times felt confident Jones would eventually play in Everett. Soetaert was dismissed in February.
Jones, who has completed his stint with the National Team Development Program, has yet to declare his intentions for next season. He recently took an official visit to the University of North Dakota, but did not commit. He stated previously he would make a decision following the U-18 World Championships. That tournament ended Sunday when the U.S. defeated Sweden 7-0 for the gold medal. Jones, who had three goals and five assists in six games, was named one of the United States’ top three players.
“We’re caught in a difficult situation trying to deal with this,” Davidson said. “The problem here is he can go to college, so that’s a big issue.
“We’ll just have to see what happens over this next period of time.”
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.