The Nashville Predators are Ground Zero for defensemen development this season. Not only is new assistant coach Phil Housley trying to take Ryan Ellis to take that final step to become an impact defenseman, he will grooming elite prospects Mattias Ekholm and Seth Jones as well.Ekholm was outstanding for Milwaukee of the American Hockey League, scoring 10 goals, adding 22 assists and earning a plus-15 rating in 59 games. He scored nine goals in 41 games the season before for Brynas IF Gavle of Sweden’s Elitserien, earning 2012 Borje Salming Award as the league’s top defenseman.
He played just three NHL games the last two seasons, but Nashville’s patience is about to be rewarded. He has added some muscle to his 6-foot-4 frame and appears ready for at least a third-pairing role.Many scouts regarded Jones as the too overall prospect in the 2013 NHL. But he fell to Nashville at No. 4 after scoring 14 goals, adding 42 assists and earning a plus-46 rating in 61 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the Wester