Top 10 Americans To Watch in 2011-2012

USA Hockey Magazine is counting down the top 10 Americans to watch in 2011-2012. In no particular order, this list features players and personnel from all different levels.

7. Seth Jones, US-NTDP U18

Seth Jones celebrates with Robbie Russo
Sept. 29 Ryan Callahan
Oct. 1
Tyler Biggs
Oct. 2
Dean Blais
Oct. 3
Seth Jones
Oct. 4
Knight, Decker
Oct. 5
Ron Wilson
Oct. 6
David Backes
Oct. 7
Rocco Grimaldi
Oct. 8
Zach Parise
Oct. 9
Tim Thomas

HEIGHT: 6-4

WEIGHT: 200

BORN: October 3, 1994

HOMETOWN: Plano, Texas

LAST SEASON:  Tallied 4 goals and 27 assists splitting time between the US-NTDP’s U17 and U18 teams.

This may not be his draft year – that’s coming in 2013 – but Seth Jones won’t have to wait long to hear his name called. And if you haven’t heard his name already, write this one down. Bookmark it. Save a nice warm seat for Jones in your memory bank.

This large and still-growing defenseman is a rare package: A shutdown defenseman with tremendous offensive capabilities. He’s a Plano, Texas native and the son of former NBA forward Popeye Jones. He could be – maybe already is – a poster boy for youth hockey in Texas for years to come.

Team USA World Juniors coach Dean Blais, who was No. 8 on our countdown, raved about Jones during the World Juniors camp in August. That’s right, Jones played righteously with America’s best players under the age of 20. At the time, he was 16.

From NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman:

U.S. coach Dean Blais also has been impressed. He's played Jones in all situations, from the point on the power play to the triangle on a few 5-on-3 penalty kills. And never has he disappointed.

"This kid is big and strong and smart way beyond his years," Blais said. "He's good down low, he's strong. He certainly doesn't play like he's a '94 (born)."

Blais said Jones has been so impressive, the coaching staff needs to keep reminding themselves of just how old he is.

"We talked about that today," he said. "We keep saying, 'This kid is only 16.'"

Jones enters our countdown at No. 7 on his 17th birthday. Bet he’d like to celebrate with a win over the University of Michigan tonight at 7:35 p.m. at Yost Ice Arena.

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