The Nashville Predators’ loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs became America’s gain this week when defenseman Seth Jones joined the U.S. Men’s National team that will compete in the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.
Jones, 20, adds a wealth of international experience to a young U.S. team that’s set to compete in the 16-nation tournament which runs May 1-17 in Ostrava and Prague, Czech Republic.
He’s a three-time IIHF gold medalist, having helped the U.S. to the top prize at the 2011 and 2012 IIHF Under-18 World Championships and the 2013 World Junior Championship.
Jones, son of former National Basketball Association star Popeye Jones, also skated for Team U.S.A. in the 2014 IIHF World Championship and made the tournament’s All-Star team. He was also named best defenseman by the tournament’s directorate.
The U.S. team begins its 2015 quest for the gold May 1 against Finland, a game in which Jones could face goaltender Pekka Rinne, a Nashville teammate. Rinne was the 2014 tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
The 2015 U.S.A.-Finland game will be aired live on cable’s NBCSN at 10 a.m. All of the American squad’s games will be live-streamed for mobile devices, desktops and tablets via NBC Sports Live Extra.
The fourth player taken in the 2013 NHL Draft, Jones appeared in all 82 games for the Predators during the 2014-15 regular season. He tallied eight goals and 19 assists and had a plus/minus of plus-3.
He played in all six of the Pred’s first-round playoff games against the Chicago Blackhawks. He had no goals, four assists and was a minus-6. The Blackhawks eliminated the Predators four games to two.
But rather than go home to Plano, Texas, at the end of his National Hockey League season, Jones decided to head to the Czech Republic. He joins other NHLers who are skating for their countries after their teams either failed to qualify for the playoffs or were eliminated in the first round.
The U.S. roster is a mix of NHLers, American Hockey League players, and NCAA Division I college players including Boston University forward Jack Eichel, likely to be taken by the Buffalo Sabres with the second pick in the 2015 NHL Draft June 26-27.
NHL players joining Jones on the American squad includes forward Nick Bonino of the Vancouver Canucks, defenseman Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins, and defenseman Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes.