Seth Jones isn't a lock to be the No. 1 pick in this summer's NHL draft, but he's certainly the frontrunner to hear his name called first. Shutdown defensemen in the 6-foot-4 range with his skill set don't come along very often, and there's always a market for them.
In fact, one quick look around the National Hockey League shows a majority of clubs that could use help on the blue line. So who needs Jones most? By all accounts, he's certainly a top three pick -- even if he is somehow passed up on draft night in favor of forwards Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon. With that in mind, let's look at the teams most likely to land one of those top selections.
By virtue of a league-worst 15-27-6 record, the Florida Panthers have a 25 percent chance at winning tonight's lottery and earning the right to choose first. While Kevin Dineen's squad doesn't have any rearguards set to leave via free agency this summer, they also don't have anyone on the back end with Jones' upside. And, not surprisingly, they allowed 3.54 goals per game this season -- good for last in all of hockey. It would be tough for them to pass on a player with his talents who could fill such a glaring need. And the idea of Jones playing defense in front of Jacob Markstrom in goal for years to come has to appeal to Florida's front office.
Colorado is next in the lottery, with an 18.8 percent chance of landing the top spot. Much like the Panthers, the Avalanche struggled to keep the puck out of their own net this season (3.13 goals allowed per game, No. 27 in the NHL). Unlike Florida, however, Colorado has a little more skill up front already. So the Avs might not be as tempted by a talented forward like MacKinnon or Drouin.
The Tampa Bay Lightning round out the top three teams that are most likely to pick first on June 30, with a 14.2 percent chance. And they weren't much better in their own zone, allowing 3.06 goals per game (No. 26 overall). Considering the fact that Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos -- the league's No. 1 and No. 2 point producers in 2013 -- are already locked in for next season, Jones would seem like any easy selection for them as well. And a blue line of Matt Carle, Victor Hedman and Jones could be just what Tampa needs to get all that offensive firepower back into the playoffs.
Of course, if history is any indication, Edmonton (4.7 percent chance) will just swoop in and somehow land that top pick anyway. And there's no doubt they'd jump at the chance to add the big D-man.