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Seth Jones leads North American skaters in mid-season draft rankings

Sweden's Elias Lindholm is checked on to Team USA goaltender John Gibson by USA's Seth Jones during second period gold medal hockey action at the IIHF World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013.

Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS

American defenceman Seth Jones was named the top draft-eligible skater from North America by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau on Tuesday.

The Portland Winterhawks standout leads all rookie Western Hockey League defencemen with 28 points in 33 games this season. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder has eight goals, 20 assists and a plus-29 rating.

Jones, from Arlington, Texas, also helped the U.S. team win gold at the world junior hockey championship earlier this month. He aims to be just the third American-born defenceman to be drafted first overall after Bryan Berard in 1995 and Erik Johnson in 2006.

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Mooseheads centre Nathan MacKinnon of Halifax is ranked second among North American skaters. He leads the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team in scoring with 55 points (23-32) in 32 games.

Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., is third on the list, followed by Ottawa 67s centre Sean Monahan of Brampton, Ont., and Medicine Hat Tigers centre Hunter Shinkaruk of Calgary.

Centre Aleksander Barkov of Tampere, Finland is the top-rated European-based player. Barkov has 31 points (14-17) in 35 games for Tappara in Finland's top league.

Mooseheads goaltender Zachary Fucale of Rosemere, Que., is the top-rated North American goaltender. He has a 28-4-1-1 record this season with a 2.50 goals-against average.

The mid-season rankings feature the top 210 skaters and 35 goaltenders in North America and top 116 skaters and 10 goaltenders from Europe.

The 2013 NHL Draft will be held in Newark, N.J., this summer. The Edmonton Oilers selected Russian forward Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick last year.

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