December 24 2016 07:00AM
Photo Credit: NHL.com
For years, Oilers fans have had the pleasure of spiking their morning coffees with Baileys or dodging drunk Uncle Robert at family gatherings and settling in for a sneak peak of the Oilers’ future. The 2017 tournament will be a quiet one on the Oilers prospect front as Team Canada hopefuls Ethan Bear and Tyler Benson were left off the roster. The one Oilers fans will have their eyes on instead, is defenseman Caleb Jones of Team USA.
With the exception of Nurse and Klefbom, Oilers fans haven’t had many opportunities to witness their potential defensive future on the world stage. Considering the tainted past of the Oilers defence, fans will be especially drawn to the promising 19-year-old starting on Boxing Day.
With a retired NBA player named Popeye for a father, how could the kid not be a star? Caleb Jones was selected by the Oilers 117th overall in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft and was then inked to a three-year, entry-level contract by the Oilers back in April. Though living in the shadow of older brother Seth Jones (selected fourth overall by Nashville in 2013), Caleb looks to carve his own path in the hockey world, and will get the opportunity to make a name for himself on the international stage in this tournament.
Though on the smaller side for his position (standing at 6'1") Jones makes up for his size with his ability to move the puck and be a step ahead of the play. Elite Prospects pegs him as “a heads-up defenseman who plays a solid, smart all-around game”. He's known for his physical play and tireless work ethic.
The Texas native won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, finishing with five assists in seven games. He'll look to add a more impressive gold medal to his resume starting Monday with the U-20 squad (Go Canada!).
Jones has spent the past two seasons with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL and is currently sitting 10th among WHL defenceman averaging nearly a point per game with 31 points (3 G, 28 A) through 32 games. Last season, Jones led the WHL in scoring by rookie defensemen and finished 11th among all defensemen in the league.
|2013-14||U.S. National Under-17 Team||USHL||33||0||7||7||57||-14||--||--||--||--||--|
|2014-15||U.S. National Under-18 Team||USHL||25||2||6||8||28||14||--||--||--||--||--|
What They’re Saying
Bruce McCurdy, after watching him last Spring: I was impressed by the versatility of this player with his mobile-all-ice game, on both sides and in all three zones. He showed some nice offensive instincts throughout, jumping into the attack a little more in the back half of the game as the Winterhawks tried to get back into it.
Lowetide: His even-strength primary points-per-game total is outstanding compared to other substantial offensive defensemen in the league.
Hockey's Future: Jones is a strong skater who moves the puck well. The younger brother of Columbus defenseman Seth Jones, he lacks the height of the former first-round pick but is solidly built and has added mass and strength during his two years with the USA NTDP program. Jones is still developing his positional game but has great fundamental skills and a solid work ethic. He plays a more physical game than his brother and is more of a defense-first defenseman.
Jones and Team USA
Jones will have plenty of opportunities to move the puck on a USA team ripe with forward scoring depth. With only two returning defensemen to the USA's roster from the last WJC, Jones will be relied upon to for his offensive abilities and aggressive play in his own zone to aid The USA's three new goaltenders. Look for the two-way defenseman to make significant contributions on both ends of the ice, especially in getting the puck to the net, freeing up space for the USA's elite scoring core, and winning battles along the boards.
|Wed., Dec. 21||Switzerland*||W, 4-3||Tribute Communities Centre||NA|
|Fri., Dec. 23||Czech Republic*||7:00 p.m.||Rogers K-Rock Centre||TBD|
|Mon., Dec. 26||Latvia||3:30 p.m.||Air Canada Centre||NHL Network|
|Wed., Dec. 28||Slovakia||7:30 p.m.||Air Canada Centre||NHL Network|
|Thur., Dec. 29||Russia||3:30 p.m.||Air Canada Centre||NHL Network|
|Sat., Dec. 31||Canada||3:30 p.m.||Air Canada Centre||NHL Network|
|Mon., Jan. 2||Quarterfinals||TBD||TBD||NHL Network|
|Wed., Jan. 4||Semifinals||TBD||Bell Centre||NHL Network|
|Thurs., Jan. 5||Bronze Medal Game||3:30 p.m.||Bell Centre||NHL Network|
|Gold Medal Game||8:00 p.m.||Bell Centre||NHL Network|
*Pre-Tournament Exhibition Game