Jones No. 1 in official draft rankings

From the official NHL release:

FINAL RANKINGS RELEASED FOR 2013 NHL DRAFT Seth Jones Ranked No. 1 in North America; Aleksander Barkov No. 1 in Europe

TORONTO (April 24, 2013) – Defenseman Seth Jones of the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks and Aleksander Barkov of Finland’s Tappara have been named the top 2013 draft-eligible skaters from North America and Europe, respectively, by the National Hockey League Central Scouting Bureau.

The 2013 NHL Draft will take place at the Prudential Center in New Jersey on Sunday, June 30, beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. All seven rounds of the draft will be conducted on the same day for the first time since 2006.

The 2013 Scotiabank NHL Draft Lottery, a weighted system to determine the order of selection for the first 14 picks of the draft, will take place on Monday, April 29, at 8:00 p.m. ET on TSN in Canada and NBC Sports Network in the United States.

Jones, a native of Arlington, Texas, led all WHL rookie defensemen with 56 points (14-42—56) in 61 games during the 2012-13 season. He also captured a gold medal as the youngest member of Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championship, recording 1-6—7 and a +8 rating in seven games. The son of former NBA player Ronald “Popeye” Jones, Seth aims to be the seventh U.S.-born player selected No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft, joining Patrick Kane (2007), Erik Johnson (2006), Rick DiPietro (2000), Bryan Berard (1995), Mike Modano (1988) and Brian Lawton (1983).

Barkov, a 6’3” center from Tampere, Finland, recorded 21-27—48 in 53 games with Tappara of the SM-Liiga during the 2012-13 season. He also posted 3-4—7 in six games for his home country at the 2013 World Junior Championship. Barkov is looking to become the first Finnish-born player taken No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft.

The debate over who should be selected with the first overall pick also figures to include center Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax, N.S.) and left wing Jonathan Drouin (Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que.), teammates on the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Halifax Mooseheads. MacKinnon totaled

32-43—75 in 44 games this season, while Drouin recorded 41-64—105 in 49 contests to be named the QMJHL’s Most Valuable Player, Best Professional Prospect and Personality of the Year. They are ranked second and third, respectively, among North American skaters.

Rounding out the top five are defenseman Darnell Nurse (Hamilton, Ont.) of the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and center Sean Monahan (Brampton, Ont.) of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s.

Zachary Fucale, a Halifax teammate of MacKinnon and Drouin, remains the top-rated North American goaltender. Fucale (Laval, Que.) led all QMJHL netminders with 45 wins and placed second with a 2.35 goals-against average in 55 appearances this season. Juuse Saros (Hämeenlinna, Finland) also remained the top-ranked European goalie. He played in 37 games this season for HPK’s junior squad, compiling a 1.86 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.

The final rankings feature the top 210 skaters and 35 goaltenders in North America as well as the top 130 skaters and 10 goaltenders from Europe.

Now in its 38th year of operation, NHL Central Scouting provides scouting and evaluation of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs.

Headed by Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting employs eight full-time and 17 part-time scouts throughout North America.

To report on prospects playing in Europe, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff of five scouts at European Scouting Services based in Finland. Combined, NHL Central Scouting and the European Scouting Service will see more than 3,000 games this season.