Pre-Draft Readings: Jones learns from figure skater, Shinkaruk knows what to expect, Nurse emulates Pronger

Eight of the top prospects met with members of the media along the Hudson River Friday afternoon [From left to right: Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov, Hunter Shinkaruk, Sean Monahan, Jonathan Drouin, Zachary Fucale, Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse]. (Candice Monhollan)

Eight of the top prospects met with members of the media along the Hudson River Friday afternoon [From left to right: Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov, Hunter Shinkaruk, Sean Monahan, Jonathan Drouin, Zachary Fucale, Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse]. (Candice Monhollan)

WEEHAWKEN, N.J.

SETH JONES

Seth Jones is poised to go either first or second overall in the draft on Sunday. (Candice Monhollan)

Seth Jones is poised to go either first or second overall in the draft on Sunday. (Candice Monhollan)

Seth Jones is no stranger to pro sports.

His father, Ronald “Popeye” Jones, was an NBA player for 11 seasons and served as an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets in 2012-13.

Jones admits if he wasn’t a hockey player, he’d be playing basketball instead.

“I’m pretty good, to be honest,” he said. “I probably could [beat my dad] now. He’s pretty rusty.”

Sounds like a challenge.

“I hope he hears that,” Jones added with a smirk.

Even though his father was a basketball player, Jones doesn’t recall ever facing a question of following in his footsteps or making his own.

“I don’t think there was a specific moment when [choosing hockey] happened,” Jones said. “I started playing hockey pretty young.”

Jones credits his ability to skate so well to when he learned from a figure skater – and not from figuring skating himself.

“I did not pick up figure skates,” Jones said. “I took power skating lessons from a figure skater, so everyone can get that straight right now. I don’t want that getting too far out there.”

After chuckling himself at the thought, he continued.

“That was huge for me,” Jones said. “I thank [my parents] for doing that because I probably didn’t want to do them back then – learning crossovers, backwards skating and the right technique of how to skate. I think that plays a lot into how I play my game now at this age 13 years later.”

HUNTER SHINKARUK

Hunter Shinkaruk has spent three seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers, recording 219 points (100G, 119A) in 193 games. (Candice Monhollan)

Hunter Shinkaruk has spent three seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers, recording 219 points (100G, 119A) in 193 games. (Candice Monhollan)

It’s no surprise young hockey players dream of the day when their name is called by an NHL team at the draft.

Hunter Shinkaruk is no different.

“From a young age, I’ve been watching these processes,” he said. “The fact that I’m here right now seems pretty surreal. It seems like I’m still that young kid watching this on TV.”

Shinkaruk had a more of an idea of what to expect this weekend because of the time he spent at last year’s draft in Pittsburgh.

“I was just running around the city [last year], having fun with the other draft eligible guys,” Shinkaruk said. “This year, it’s a little bit more intense and I’m a little bit more nervous. I’m lucky I got to see the things we have to go through.”

At this point in the process, the interviews are complete for the 18 year old and all he can do is wait.

“It’s all out of my hands,” Shinkaruk said. “I’ve talked to New Jersey a few times [and] Phoenix. I definitely think that’s nice they’re showing that kind of interest.”

With the draft just two days away, the nerves are definitely kicking in for Shinkaruk.

“If I could, I’d like to just fast forward right to when my name gets called,” he said. “It’s getting a little more stressful as it’s coming up, but it’s an experience I’ve wanted to go through for a long time, so I’m just trying to slow it down and enjoy everything.”

DARNELL NURSE

Darnell Nurse has an uncle Philadelphians are very familiar with: former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. (Candice Monhollan)

Darnell Nurse has an uncle Philadelphians are very familiar with: former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. (Candice Monhollan)

Darnell Nurse may be as tall as Chris Pronger, but the 18 year old tries to emulate the future hall of famer in his style of play.

“He never loses battles,” Nurse said. “Watching him in a game, he has so much room based on the fact of how hard he is to play against. That’s something I’d like to take away from his game.”

Not only does he try to play like him, but he even tries to bring a little of Pronger into his personality as well.

“[His snarl] is something that you’ve got or you don’t have,” Nurse said.

Does he have it?

“Absolutely,” Nurse said. “[Pronger] probably shows it more, but I have it.”

Pronger even carries the snarl and sarcasm into interviews, which Nurse smiled at the thought of.

“I like it,” he said. “That’s as far as I’m going to go with that one.”

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Categories: Ice Hockey, NHL, NHL Entry Draft, Sports

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