Max Jones is bound to be controversial, not just as a draft pick, but also when he ultimately reaches the NHL. He's got some really high-end skills, but also plays a very nasty, physical game that opposing fans are going to hate. But for the team that picks him, they are getting a really tough, really skilled prospect that could have a very solid, very productive NHL career.
Player: Max Jones
Team: London Knight(OHL)
Position: Left Wing
Height: 6'3" Weight: 201 lbs.
Stats: 63 games, 28 goals, 24 assists, 52 points, +30
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 14th among North American skaters
What I Like:
Jones has a tremendous first step for a big man. He's light and quick on his feet and can get moving extremely quickly. One of his best highlights of the season came on this play, when he beat top Draft prospect Jakob Chychrun with this ridiculous spin move to score an overtime goal.
Jones is a real force moving down the wing. He's got the ability to beat defenders wide and create separation to make a play, as seen in these two clips.
Jones is a big physical presence on the ice. He knows how to use his size and refuses to back down to anyone. There's a real nastiness to his game that can make life miserable for opponents. He's capable of throwing devastating checks.
-Full out effort
Jones is the type of player that gives 100% on every shift. He'll do whatever it takes to make a play. In this clip, he lays out in a full dive to get his stick on a rebound.
What I Don't Like:
-Lack of scoring touch
The big knock on Jones is that he averaged less than a point per game this past year, a low mark for a projected top draft pick. Some of that is the fact that London gave as much ice time as possible to their top line with Christian Dvorak, Mitch Marner and Matt Tkachuk. Jones did excel when those two were off at the World Juniors and he was getting prime minutes. I'm not sure he had the best line mates for putting up big numbers either.
Still, it's probably a valid concern.Jones has some amazing physical tools, but might lack the pure hockey sense to be a big-time scorer at the NHL level. He might top out as a very good second or third liner rather than a true top line forward.
-Puck handling ability
Along those lines, Jones is going to play more of a power forward-style game than a guy that spends a lot of time with the puck on his stick. He is capable of creating for himself with his skating ability, but not necessarily going to create a lot for his teammates.
There is a downside to all the aggressiveness that Jones plays with, and that is that he can sometimes go too far. He--rightfully--received a length suspension for the blindside hit below late in the year. With the NHL cracking down on dangerous hits to the head(-ish), he could find himself in frequent trouble in the NHL.
It's no huge secret that I've been a huge fan of Max Jones for quite some time. I had him in my top-five much of the year, before finally relenting and moving him down a tad to 9th overall due to the outstanding seasons of some of the top prospects in the Draft. I've been on the high-end in regards to Jones all year though. A few people have had him outside the top-30, though the general consensus seems to have settled with him somewhere in the 18-24 range of the Draft. There's such a deep drop off in talent after the first 18 picks or so that I can't possibly imagine 12 teams passing on a player with his talent in the late first round.
If your team doesn't draft Jones, he's going to be a player that you despise for a long time. He'll be a physical presence on the wing. He might not be a top line forward, but he'll contribute some scoring and be very noticeable even when he's not scoring.