WINTERHAWKS SIGN TOP U.S. PROSPECT JONES
 

The Portland Winterhawks acquired the rights to defenseman Seth Jones from the Everett Silvertips, and have signed Jones to a contract. Jones will join the team next season.

To complete the trade with Everett to acquire the rights to Jones and sign him, the Winterhawks traded Ben Betker and Tyler Sandhu along with the rights to Mitch Skapski and Reece Willcox to the Silvertips. Previously, the Hawks had sent a conditional draft pick to Everett for the right to talk to Jones.

“Seth is a world-class player with the ability to come in and make an immediate impact next season,” said Portland Winterhawks General Manager & Head Coach Mike Johnston. “He combines tremendous offensive instincts with the ability to be a shut-down defenseman in his own end. This is a very big signing for us, and we’re thrilled he’s chosen to continue his career with the Winterhawks and the Western Hockey League.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Winterhawks and the Western Hockey League,” said Jones. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Winterhawks and the WHL, and I can’t wait to get started there. And of course, I want to wish the team luck in the championship series against Edmonton.”

Jones, 6’3”, 201 pounds, is considered one of the best players in the U.S. in his age group, and is rated as a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft. He played this season for the U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under-18 team, and won a gold medal with the U.S. team last month at the U-18 World Championship in the Czech Republic.

Jones was dominant during the tournament, registering three goals and five assists for eight points in six games, placing second in scoring both on his team and among all defensemen. He also played in the tournament last year as a 16-year-old, registering three assists en route to a gold medal.

With the U.S. National Team Development Program, Jones posted six goals and 20 assists for 26 points in 48 games. Jones, a native of Plano, Texas, was drafted by Everett in the first round of the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft, 11th overall.

Jones is the son of former NBA player Ronald “Popeye” Jones. The elder Jones played 535 games over 11 seasons with Dallas, Toronto, Boston, Denver, Washington and Golden State, averaging 7.0 points and 7.4 rebounds during his career. He is currently an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets.

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EVERETT – The Everett Silvertips today announced the acquisition of four prospects from the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for the Western Hockey League rights to defenseman Seth Jones, who signed with the ‘Hawks today.  The Silvertips receive 1994-born defensemen Reece Willcox and Ben Betker and 1996-born forwards Tyler Sandhu and Mitch Skapski as part of the trade.

Silvertips General Manager Garry Davidson had a hand in bringing all four players into Portland’s system when he was the Winterhawks’ Director of Player Personnel.  Three were selected in the WHL Bantam Draft and Betker was listed by the team on Davidson’s watch.

“We’re very excited about the four players we’ve gained in this deal,” said Silvertips General Manager Garry Davidson.  “Obviously we’re disappointed that a good player who could be a top prospect for next year’s draft won’t be coming to Everett, but in return we’ve acquired a group of solid players who can all contribute to our hockey team.  I’m familiar with all four of these young men and feel confident that they’ll be part of our success in the coming years.”

Reece Willcox, 18, is an NHL Draft Prospect ranked 90th among all 2012 draft-eligible North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.  He competed in the Junior-A British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) last season as a member of the Merritt Centennials.  The Surrey, BC product scored five goals and assisted on 18 others during his second campaign in Merritt, giving him 23 points in 52 games.  Measuring in a 6-2 and 185-pounds, Willcox was selected by Portland in the third round (#59 overall) of the 2009 WHL Draft.

Ben Betker, 17, appeared in one game with the Winterhawks last season, finishing with a +1 rating in a 4-2 win over Kamloops on November 2.  The 6-4, 185-pound Cranbrook, British Columbia native spent most of last year with the BCHL’s Westside Warriors.  In 59 games as a Warriors rookie, Betker totaled 18 points (5g/13a) and 52 penalty minutes.

Tyler Sandhu, 16, was a second-round pick (42nd overall) of the Winterhawks in last year’s Bantam Draft.  Hailing from Richmond, BC, he led the Greater Vancouver Canadians and ranked 16th in the BC Major Midget League (BCMML) in scoring last season.  In 38 games the 5-11, 150-pound Sandhu recorded 45 points on 18 goals and 27 assists while helping the Canadians to a fifth-place finish.

Mitch Skapski, 16, was Portland’s fourth-round choice (#86 overall) in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.  He spent last year with the BCMML’s Fraser Valley Bruins, where he finished with 26 goals, 49 points and 86 penalty minutes in 40 games.  The 5-8, 140-pound Abbotsford, BC native finished second on the Bruins and 14th in the league in scoring.  Skapski is the younger brother of Kootenay Ice goaltender and 2012 NHL Draft prospect Mackenzie Skapski.

Both Sandhu and Skapski won Bronze Medals with Team British Columbia at the 2011 Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Jones, 17, was one of two first-round picks for Everett (11th overall) in the 2009 WHL Draft.  He has spent the past two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 team.  In 48 games with the U.S. NTDP this year, the Plano, Texas native recorded 26 points (6g/20a) and 18 penalty minutes. 

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