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Prospect Update: Max Jones
By Thomas Harrington
Since being Anaheim’s first selection of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft at 24th overall, Max Jones has had a couple of rough seasons. This was especially true this past year, as he dealt with injuries and missed significant time. Still, he’s got a future power forward written all over him, and he’ll turn pro this season.
Jones started out last season playing for the London Knights. In 25 games, he scored 18 goals, a great goal scoring pace. However, in an odd twist of fate, he recorded only three assists. He’s certainly a better playmaker than that, and those low assists numbers can at least partially be contributed to bad luck, as he can give his teammates the perfect pass, but they still have to finish the chance off. Still, that low assist number does raise some concerns, but his great goal scoring numbers really do help to alleviate them. The Knights played 68 games last season; if Jones had played in every single one of them and kept scoring on that same rate, he’d have scored almost 50 goals.
Jones also played for Team USA at the World Junior Championships. In seven games, he scored one goal and two points. Jones’ offense at the tournament was a disappointment, but part of his lack of production was because of how much he bounced around the lineup. He played on just about every line that Team USA had at the tournament. Still, Jones was able to help the US win the Bronze Medal at the tournament.
After the conclusion of the World Juniors, Jones found himself on the move, as London traded him to the Kingston Frontenacs. Unfortunately, after just six games with his new team, Jones was injured and did not return to action until after the playoffs had started. In those six games, he scored one goal and three points, nearly doubling his assist total from his time with London. In the playoffs, Jones played in nine games with Kingston and scored three goals and four points. Kingston made it to the third round of the OHL playoffs, before losing in five games to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Last year, I had one major hope for this past season for Jones, for him to keep his nose clean and avoid unnecessary, pointless penalties that hurt his team. Well, his penalty minutes dramatically dropped this past year, and he didn’t suffer any suspensions, so he met that expectation. My second goal for him was for his offense to continue to grow. Given how much time he missed with injuries, that didn’t happen. Again, if he’d stayed healthy and scored at a similar pace to his time in London, he would have had a chance at scoring 50 goals, so his scoring was certainly there when he was healthy.
This coming season, Jones will be a full-time pro. He actually made his pro debut in the playoffs with San Diego at the end of the 2016-2017 season and didn’t look out of place. The two biggest things for Jones this year are his health and discipline. Injuries really derailed him last year, and discipline has been a factor in his playing time in seasons before that. Both have kept him off the ice, and Jones needs to play as much as possible this season. He’s going to play some of this season in San Diego, but I think that he’s got a shot at some playing time with the Ducks as well. When he was first with San Diego, he didn’t score a ton of points, but I was impressed by how physically mature he was. Physically, I think Jones is likely ready for the NHL, the question is if he is mentally. When he’s with the Gulls, I’d like to see him be one of their better scorers. While hoping a rookie in the AHL will be one of the team’s leading scorers is a big ask, Jones’ physical maturity is the reason why I think he’s capable of it. When he’s in Anaheim, he just needs to focus on his play and learning from his mistakes. There’s at least one open left wing spot in Anaheim, and he’ll likely be battling Kevin Roy for that in training camp.
In terms of his NHL future, I don’t think that Jones is quite ready for a full-time NHL job, but I think he can be next year. A great training camp this year will go a long way to determining how soon he’s with the Ducks on a full-time basis. If he plays well enough in the preseason and makes Anaheim’s opening night roster, he’s got a chance at staying with the team over the course of the entire season. He’ll be one of the more interesting players to watch during training camp and the preseason.
Jones is signed to a three-year entry-level contract which will begin this year, and he’ll be a restricted free agent when it’s over. If Jones can keep his nose clean and have established himself in the NHL, he’ll be re-signed, likely to a one-way deal. If he can really impress, he’ll have a shot at a long-term deal, but I think a bridge deal is more likely for Jones.
The next, and final, prospect update will be on Sam Steel. For more prospect articles visit DucksNPucks.com
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September 4th, 2018