Seth Jones is taking the WHL to places it has never been.
Like, for example, the renowned Page Six of the New York Post.
NHL Central Scouting released its final rankings prior to the NHL's 2013 draft on Wednesday and, as expected, Jones, a freshman defenceman with the Portland Winterhawks, tops the list.
But the unveiling was almost overshadowed by an item from The Post that has the newspaper linking Jones and American rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z.
Prior to Game 4 of the Western Conference final with the Kamloops Blazers at Interior Savings Centre, Jones was asked if his teammates had been giving him the gears. He laughed. "Yeah," he said, "a little bit. But it's a surprise for me as well."
Recently, Jay-Z started up a sports agency called Roc Nation Sports, which is in partnership with CAA, one of the most prominent agencies in the business.
According to Kirsten Fleming of The Post, Jay-Z would like Roc Nation to be "involved in the star's marketing and branding."
What this means is that should a deal come to fruition, once Jones becomes property of an NHL team - the NHL draft is set for June 30 in Newark, N.J. - Pat Brisson of CAA would negotiate his playing contract, with Roc Nation handling the marketing side of things.
"When Seth comes to the NHL draft in June, his family, agents at CAA and Roc Nation are going to have a powwow to see if he'll sign with them," a source told Fleming.
Jones was adamant that, at least from his perspective, this all is just speculation.
"I'm not signing . . . I'm not committed to anything," he stated. "My agent is Pat Brisson of CAA. I believe (CAA and Roc Nation) have some kind of joint partnership . . . but it's in his and my best interests to open up new things."
Jones is the son of Popeye Jones, a former NBA player who now is an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets. (Seth Jones' mother Amy - she and Popeye are divorced - is white.) Prior to starting up Roc Nation, Jay-Z was a minority shareholder in the Nets.
Should Jones be the first player selected in Newark, he would become the first African-American to go No. 1. Tie that in with his father's NBA connections, throw in Jay-Z and the marketing possibilities will be almost endless.
When it's suggested that his father is likely getting a chuckle out of all this, Jones agreed.
"It's probably pretty funny to him," he said, laughing again. "I'll probably get a text from him soon."
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ollowing Jones in the Central Scouting rankings are, in order, F Nathan MacKinnon and F Jonathan Drouin, both of the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads, D Darnell Nurse (OHL-Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), F Sean Monahan (OHL-Ottawa 67's), F Hunter Shinkaruk (WHL-Medicine Hat Tigers), F Valentin Zykov (QMJHL-Baie-Comeau Drakkar), F Frederik Gauthier (QMJHL-Rimouski Oceanic), D Mirco Mueller (WHL-Everett Silvertips) and F Anthony Mantha (QMJHL-Val d'Or Foreurs.
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he Blazers have three players ranked.
F JC Lipon jumped from 96 to 83 and F Cole Ully moved from 97 to 92. G Taran Kozun, who wasn't ranked in the mid-terms, is at No. 30 among North American goaltenders. Cole Cheveldave, the Blazers' sophomore starting goaltender, isn't ranked.
Lipon, who turns 20 on July 10, went through the 2011 and 2012 drafts without being selected. After the 2012 draft, he signed a free-agent tryout deal with the Colorado Avalanche but didn't get to go to camp because of the NHL lockout.