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2016 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Max Jones has high end potential, but needs time

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A high profile suspension took some of the attention off a very good OHL rookie season for the top prospect

Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Much of the discussion surrounding Max Jones will not be on his play on the ice but more one play on the ice that took place during the OHL playoffs.

In the Western Conference quarter final, Jones had a blindside hit to the head of Owen Sound player Justin Brack. He was handed a 12 game suspension, but due to the Knights success, returned in time for the Memorial Cup.

The hit was inexcusable, and the suspension well deserved especially when you consider he was laughing when heading off the ice. But the timing of the hit was fine as Brack had the puck in his skates, but the arm to the head is where the penalty came in. Jones is a top prospect for this year's draft and should be a first-round pick, although in the second half of the round.

Birthplace: Rochester, Minnesota, USA

Shoots: Left

Position: Left Wing

Height: 6'3" Weight: 201lbs

Jones had a very good first season in the Ontario Hockey League. He had 52 points in 63 games on a very, very good London team. A lot of this could be due to his teammates that include Matthew Tkachuk, Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak among others but Jones got rave reviews, and put up great numbers when those players were at the World Junior Championships in Helsinki.

Of his 52 points, 42 were goals or first assists (primary points). On the stacked London team he was not out of place, finishing fifth in the team in even strength primary points behind Dvorak, Marner, overager Aaron Berisha. Jones finished just five even strength primary points behind Tkachuk who is seen as a much better prospect.

He has the body of a prototypical power forward and is more than just a big body. He is able to make plays in the offensive zone and may be a project which pushes him down in the first round.

The first thing you notice about Jones is that he can move. He can skate around defenders and can skate away from them as well. It's clear he has skills, but like any young player will need to work on his game away from the puck. He was killing penalties and has scored three shorthanded goals. Among draft eligible OHL prospects, only Michael McLeod had more shorthanded goals.

Jones profiles as an eventual top line prospect at best, but that is a best case scenario. Like many prospects, he has skills, it's about how he puts it all together.

Scouting

Hockey Prospect 2015 Black Book

Many scouts like Jones because he plays tenacious with a high compete level. He likes the puck on his stick to score and plays a determined game with edge too. There isn’t much that stops him as he will drive the puck hard to the net and also release a hard snap or wrist shot. He plays strong-minded game and with decent skills, offensive power, and grittiness too. His vision is adequate although he seems to miss some opportunities because he doesn’t see the play develop or plainly just wants it himself.

Curtis Joe, Eliteprospects

Max Jones is a diligent and hard-working power forward capable of being an impact player every shift. He's strong on the puck and routinely looks to create separation. He knows his game inside out and has a wide array of tools at his disposal. Strength and speed allow him to bull his way to the front of the net where he is relentless and creates havoc. Makes smart decisions with the puck and doesn't give the opposition time and space. Possesses high-end finishing ability and "wills" the puck to the back of the net. All-in-all, a determined forward who puts tremendous pressure on his opponents when he's on the ice.

Rankings

Future Considerations: 23rd

ISS: 14th

Central Scouting service: 14th (North American skaters)

HockeyProspect.com: 18th

Draft Buzz Hockey: 20th

ESPN: 30th

Draft Analysis: 22nd

Thoughts

Jones is likely going in the first round of the draft, despite his high profile suspension. He has the skills that project well, as well as the size that teams love. I wouldn't take him in the top 10, which is where the Canadiens have their first pick, but if they trade down or he lasts until the second round, he could provide value.

Young players make mistakes, and that is what Jones did in the OHL playoffs. He has returned for the Memorial Cup and hasn't really missed a beat, with three points in three games. How he does in interviews with teams who will likely ask about the hit will go a long way in determining where he will go in June.