In the first two parts of this series on 2016 draft eligible prospects, I focused on prospects whose performance as a 16-year-old was so off the charts that they did not have historical peers and players whose PCS scores were so high that they suggest a very high likelihood of future success. However, one of the most valuable attributes of PCS is when you see a highly rated prospect whose performance so far does not seem to match his scouting rank.
There was no bigger disconnect between the scouting ranking and actual production than for the London Knight’s Max Jones, so I thought it would be worthwhile to dig into this a bit further.
Max Jones (LW, 6’2, 201 lbs, PCS 6%, ISS #3)
Of all the names at the top of the ISS draft rankings, Max Jones may be the most fascinating. Only 6% of Jones historical peers from his 16-year-old season at the US National Development Program level went on to play over 200 NHL games. When you dig into his numbers from last season, it’s not surprising to see why (10 points in 24 games versus USHL competition). To get a sense as to why Jones is so highly celebrated by the scouting community, I turned to friend of the blog Anthony Mauro from Draftbuzz Hockey, who had this to say about Jones:
“Downright nasty forward shakes up the ice with his hulk attitude and then profits on it…has good hands, can pass well, and has roofed some very skilled shots…the type of forward to create his own shot, get his own rebound, and run over some opponents in the process…is a fine skater who likely isn’t done improving as he grows into his significant frame…may not have the top tier hockey sense everyone expects him to…has problems when he gets too intense and can’t stop himself from taking extreme/unnecessary penalties (189PIM in 38GP)…may fall a bit as a crowded London offense is a terrible destination for a kid who needs to prove he can carry an offense on his own and not just goon it up.”
So with the summary by Draftbuzz in mind, I thought I’d look at some tape of Jones so far in his year with the Knights. At the time this post was written, Jones had only played 9 games due to a 2 game suspension, and had only accumulated 6 points, half of which came in Saturday’s game versus the North Bay Battalion.
In the first clip, we see Jones’ first goal of the year, which is a pretty good example of what scouts love about him. He comes in hard on the forecheck, pressuring the defense to cough up the puck, so he can slide the puck past the goalie:
In the next clip we see Jones getting under the opponents skin, goading the opposition to take a dumb penalty, which eventually led to a Knights goal:
In our last sequence, we see Jones go hard to the net, but unfortunately, he doesn’t seem able to find his off switch leading to an unfortunate and unnecessary roughing penalty:
So what do we have when you put it all together? You can see why scouts rave about Jones, as the physical tools all appear to be there, but so far he hasn’t been able to put those tools together to the extent that justifies a 3rd overall pick. There’s undoubtedly value in a physical player who can get under the opposition’s skin, but that value is offset if you’re consistently putting your team on the penalty kill or finding yourself out of the lineup due to suspension. More often than not when he’s has been in the lineup, Jones has been relegated to 3rd line duty on a deep London Knights team.
Saturday’s 3 goal effort versus the Battalion may be a sign that he’s turned the corner offensively, and if he expects to keep that early top 3 scouting ranking we’ll need to see a lot more efforts like below:
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) October 25, 2015
This isn’t to say Jones won’t demonstrate that he isn’t the #3 prospect that ISS thinks he is as the season goes on, just that we haven’t seen that from him last season, or so far this year. No matter how you look at it, Max Jones will be one of the more interesting stories to follow as the year progresses.
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