4/13/21 | The Rangers have confirmed that they have signed Jones to his entry-level contract.
David Quinn said on Tuesday, “He just got here today, he skated this morning. Obviously there is a familiarity with him from my end of it, as we talked about yesterday, this is a guy we’ve thought an awful lot of the minute we drafted him. He went on to have a great college career and we will see how it goes while he’s here. It’s day by day, see how he adapts, see how he adjusts, I know there is not a lot of practice time, so it’s going to be hard to evaluate him in a lot of ways at the pro level, but we are going to do the best we can and if we feel that he gives an indication that he can help us, he’ll play.”
Quinn also said that since Jones drove from UMass he doesn’t need to quarantine and that he was tested as well.
4/12/21 | 1:07 PM: The Rangers are close to signing 2019 third-round pick Zac Jones after Jones won the NCAA Championship as a sophomore with UMass. (Seravalli)
Frank Seravalli says that Jones will report to the Rangers and he is expected to be in the lineup after his quarantine period.
UMass Head Coach Greg Carvel said of Jones on the NHL Network recently, “Zac is an NHL player, it’s just a matter of time. … He’s a high, high-end offensive player, he’ll be a similar player to Adam Fox. … His growth without the puck the last two years has been outstanding.” (NYR)
Jones, 20, is a left shot defenseman and listed at 5-11, 175lbs. He was the 68th pick in 2019.
From the Rangers 4/12 Prospect Report:
- Named to the NCAA (East) Second All-American Team, the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team, and the Hockey East Second All-Star Team in 2020-21
- Ranked second among NCAA defensemen in goals (nine), ranked third among NCAA defensemen in points (24), tied for third among NCAA defensemen in shots on goal (84), and tied for eighth among NCAA defensemen in assists (15) this season
- Since the start of his collegiate career in 2019-20: ranks third among defensemen in points (47), ranks fourth among defensemen in assists (35), and is tied for seventh among defensemen in goals (12)
- Notched at least one point in 17 of 29 games this season; UMass posted a 13-3-1 record in those 17 contests
From the Rangers Prospect Reports:
- 11/4/19: “He has shown early in the season that he will be a dynamic offensive player for us. He has quickly proven to be coachable and his game without the puck has already shown progress.” – UMass Head Coach Greg Carvel on Zachary Jones
- 12/30/19: “He’s an elite offensive defenseman. Offensively, at the offensive blue line, he’s very quick twitch, he can change directions fast and separate from defenders, he’s very good at getting puck to the net and changing the shooting angle, and he’s got poise back there. You can run at him a million miles an hour and he’ll just see right through you.” – UMass Associate Head Coach Jared DeMichiel on Zachary Jones (Credit: The Athletic)
- 12/30/19: “He’s very easygoing. He’s got ice water in his veins, he can hold onto the puck for that extra second to make plays. Plus he’s very coachable and eager to hear feedback. He’s got a great attitude and he’s a great teammate — just a real good kid to be around.” – UMass Head Coach Greg Carvel on Zachary Jones (Credit: The Athletic)
Adam Rotter: Jones draws comparisons to Adam Fox based upon their comparable size, NCAA history, offensive skill sets and hockey IQs. Like Fox he went in the third round because of his size and questions about his skating, but the Rangers have seen that neither of those things have limited Fox and they don’t expect either to limit Jones either. It was thought that Jones was someone who the Rangers might bring along slower, but winning the National Championship and his strong play in the tournament seemed to have accelerated things. The Rangers have also seen that two NCAA defensemen in Fox and K’Andre Miller have adjusted to the NHL quickly and they may be looking for something similar with Jones.
Outside of his skill set and potential, what Jones brings right now is another body on defense and a left side that could look a lot like the LW and RW with too many players and not enough minutes. With Ryan Lindgren and K’Andre Miller entrenched on the left side, Libor Hajek might have to shift to the right side on a more permanent basis to stay in the lineup. If not, then Jones will either have to shift to the right side, go to Hartford or just watch. The Rangers have a top-four on defense that could be their top-four for many years to come and that only leaves two spots for a group of Hajek, Jones, Matthew Robertson, Braden Schneider, Nils Lunkvist, Tarmo Reunanen and Hunter Skinner. The Rangers will have tough decisions to make, but ultimately that is a good thing because it means that the team is getting better, players are establishing themselves, the best of the best will play and the others will be used to address other holes that may come up.