One upside to having a dismal season in the NHL is the opportunity at landing hockey's No. 1-rated prospect in the NHL draft lottery.
According to USA Hockey, defenseman Seth Jones is the top prospect in 2013's crop of amateur players and a guy who can completely change the outlook of an NHL organization.
USA Hockey @usahockey
Seth Jones is ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft in the Central Scouting final rankings http://t.co/oNqKBJ0JJC2013-4-24 20:16:06
At 6'5", 205 pounds, Jones isn't quite the force that Zdeno Chara is, but he's a playmaker on offense and regarded as the best defender in the country.
So who has the best chances of landing Jones and developing him into a future star in the NHL?
Odds via NHL.com
Florida Panthers (25 percent odds)
Because they finished with the least amount of points in the NHL this season (36), the Florida Panthers have the best chances of landing Jones in the 2013 NHL draft lottery.
Florida was plagued by poor goaltending, as starting goalie Jacob Markstrom surrendered 3.22 goals per game and posted a .901 save percentage. Florida's 3.5 goals against mark was the worst in the NHL while its offense ranked 29th in terms of goals scored per contest, at 2.3.
The Panthers would benefit from drafting a defensive talent like Jones, as they already have younger talent on offense in Tomas Fleischmann, Shawn Matthias and Jonathan Huberdeau.
With so many holes on defense, Jones could be in the NHL sooner than we think if drafted by the Panthers in 2013.
Colorado Avalanche (18.8 percent odds)
If the Colorado Avalanche could land a defenseman like Jones, their club could contend in a few years after the young defenseman develops in the farm system.
The Avalanche have a young stud in center Matt Duchene but significantly lack on defense. Colorado ranked 20th on the penalty kill in 2013 and watched goalie Semyon Varlamov allow more than three goals per game.
Let's take a look at some of the Avalanche's NHL ranks this season.
|Goals per game||2.4||26th|
|Power Play %||15.0||24th|
|Penalty Kill %||80.3||20th|
Jones is the type of player who can instantly add offense to a scoring attack that has the potential to put the puck in the back of the net.
Colorado needs help on both sides of the puck and could get that dynamic production on the ice from Jones, but the Avalanche would still have some work to do before contending in the Northwest Division.
Tampa Bay Lightning (14.2 percent odds)
With the third-best odds in the lottery, the Tampa Bay Lightning could be in the best shape of anyone in a few years if they're lucky enough to get the stud defenseman.
The Lightning ranked third in scoring this season (3.1 goals per game), but had an issue on defense, where they surrendered 3.1 goals per game, which resulted in the 18-26-4 finish and fourth-placed standing in the Southeast Division.
Anders Lindback is a good, young goalie with the potential to be a top-tier netminder, but he needs some solid defense in front of him.
That solid defense can undoubtedly come in the form of Seth Jones, whose big body and aggressive style would be much appreciated in Tampa Bay.
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