— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) June 1, 2016
Every Friday before the 2016 NHL Draft, Elite Sports NY will profile a potential New York Islanders draft pick.Dale Hunter was a menacing center, known for his reeling hit on Pierre Turgeon during the 1993 Patrick Division Semifinals against the New York Islanders.
He’s currently the head coach of the London Knights of the OHL, a team that features future NHLers such as Mitch Marner, Christian Dvorak and Matthew Tkachuk. One of those players is Max Jones, a 6’3″, 201 pound power forward slated to become a mid-to-late first round pick.
Jones’ father, Brad, played six seasons in the NHL from 1986-92 with the Winnipeg Jets, Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers.
“He’s a lot better skater, he’s a lot faster than I was,” Max Jones said at the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in September. “I can skate, but I play a lot [more] physical than he did. I don’t know how that happened, but obviously he teaches me the aspects of the game that I don’t have.”
Besides for his family lineage and professional ties, Jones possesses a tremendous blend of size, speed and skill.
“[Jones is a] power forward who is an excellent skater and displays separation speed,” said Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting. “[He is a] hard-hitting player who plays the game with an edge. Very good shot with a quick release. Loves to take the puck to the net and has good hands in tight.”
Jones totalled 52 points in 63 games in his initial Ontario Hockey League season, and was tabbed as a finalist for the league’s Rookie of the Year award. With the US National U17 and U18 teams, he tallied roughly three quarters of a point per-game.
Don’t let his three intangibles fool you, though.
Jones is a gritty winger with a penchant for racking up penalties and being tough along the boards. He is an archetypal power forward unafraid of anything, kind of like his coach, Hunter.
“Max is an extremely physical player who plays with an edge,” Matt Ryan of NHL Central Scouting said. “The energy and aggression he plays with is infectious, and he has done a very good job of learning to control his emotions as he transitions to the OHL game.”
As Jones has grown older, he’s gotten more mature, too. Many of the silly penalties that he racked up in his youth are no longer commonplace for the 18-year-old.
He’s replaced it with an unwavering yearning to win, something Isles fans have craved (especially after Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson failed to display much emotion during the 2015-16 season). If there’s an answer for their prayers, it’s Jones.
Additionally, if there’s an answer for the physicality the team would miss out on if they fail to sign unrestricted free agent Matt Martin, it’s Jones. (This isn’t to suggest, of course, that Jones would play on the fourth line.)
Garth Snow has shipped key cogs of the organization’s prospect pipeline to other teams in the past couple of years.
The time is now to restock. Jones would be a solid start.