Jones, Forsberg crack Predators' age barrier, rank among NHL's top projected newcomers

Seth Jones made it all the way to the finish of the Nashville Predators’ training camp as an 18-year-old. That’s unusual.

He won’t be able to say the same about his regular-season debut, though.

The first-round pick will turn 19 Thursday, the day the Predators begin the 2013-14 season at St. Louis (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee). As such, he will not become the fourth 18-year-old to appear in a game for Nashville.

Jones will, however, be the franchise’s fifth-first-round selection and the sixth Predator overall to make his NHL debut before his 20th birthday.

The last to do it was Filip Forsberg late last season after he was acquired in a trade with Washington. The youngest player ever to suit up for Nashville was Scott Hartnell, who was the sixth overall pick in 2000 and jumped immediately into the NHL.

With Jones and Forsberg on the roster, this will be the first time in franchise history the Predators open a season with two teenagers.

“We didn’t hand these guys the spots,” coach Barry Trotz said. “You could argue that Filip may have been our best forward in camp. You could argue that Seth has at least been in our top four [defensemen] in training camp on a day-to-day basis. They’ve earned the right to play, just like Scottie Hartnell [did].”

All-time youngest Predators
(through the end of the 2012-13 season, based on first appearance)

Scott Hartnell: 18 years, 172 days (Oct. 7, 2000)
David Legwand: 18 years, 243 days (April 17, 1999)
Filip Forsberg: 18 years, 244 days (April 14, 2013)
Scottie Upshall: 19 years, 8 days (Oct. 15, 2002)
Colin Wilson: 19 years, 357 days (Oct. 12, 2009)

Their youth has done little to diminish their projected impact.

According to odds released Tuesday by Bovada.lv, Jones is the favorite to win the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) and Forsberg, whose status for Thursday is uncertain because of an injury, is among the top 10 candidates. No other team has more than one player in the top 10.

Odds to win the Calder Trophy
(source: Bovada.lv)

Seth Jones (Nashville) – 3/2
Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado) – 9/2
Valeri Nichushkin (Dallas) – 13/2
Aleksander Barkov (Florida) – 9/1
Tomas Hertl (San Jose) – 9/1
Sven Baertschi (Calgary) – 9/1
Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg) – 9/1
Boone Jenner (Columbus) – 9/1
Torey Krug (Boston) – 9/1
Filip Forsberg   (Nashville) – 20/1