Hunter Jones is an intriguing prospect who played on a mediocre Peterborough Petes team this season. Adjusting to the CHL a year ago, this time around he flashed high-end talent on quite a few occasions.
His 2017-18 numbers were quite pedestrian as a rookie netminder. He was backing up Dylan Wells, an Edmonton Oilers prospect, and appeared in only 15 games, posting a 5.14 goals-against average and an .866 save percentage. With Wells leaving for the AHL at the end of last year, Jones had the opportunity to become the starter for the Petes, and he responded pretty positively. He played in 57 of the Peterborough Petes’ 68 games, amassing a 3.31 GAA and a .902 Sv% along the way. He is a workhouse, proving capable of shouldering the heavy burden.
Jones was an important factor in getting the Petes back into the playoffs this year after a disastrous season in 2017-18 when they won a mere 23 games.
Birthplace: Brantford, ON, Canada
Date of birth: September 21, 2000
Weight: 193 lbs.
Team: Peterborough Petes (OHL)
One of the first things you’ll notice when looking at Jones is his size. At 6’4’’, he understands how to use his frame to his advantage. He’s able to see the puck well through traffic and knows how to position himself to track plays as they develop in front of him. While his big frame allows him to cover the net, he is also gifted to be an athletic goaltender, moving quickly in his crease. He has strong rebound control, easily directing pucks into the corners and away from danger.
He’s combative and never stops working for a puck until the referees tell him not to. When you add his quickness from post to post to his overall impressive athleticism, he has the ability to steal games for his team.
Everything he does is done with speed. He’s very quick to go into the splits and cover a lot of ground on the ice, getting back into position for the next chance. He is very effective at shutting down the five-hole, forcing shooters into more precise shots to beat him.
He is very technical in his approach to the game and can be seen tracking and staying square to the shooter. His strong positioning also always keep him in the thick of things, giving him a fighting chance to make the stop. He has a strong glove hand that is fast and accurate. With his size, he’s able to see and snare pucks even in a crowd.
Jones isn’t without his weaknesses. As great as his speed is, his skating still needs some work, especially on his edges. His lateral strides are fairly strong but could be adjusted to be more efficient with little less wasted movement.
He’s excellent at settling the puck behind his net, thwarting the dump-in entry and letting his defencemen handle the rest, but he’s no Carey Price when it comes to passing the puck in his zone. Whenever it comes time to move the puck, you feel a little nervousness from him. If he worked on that aspect, it would add another element to his game and prevent the chances against that he creates on his own.
Rankings (not all rankings are final)
Hockey Prospect: #33
NHL Central Scouting: #3 (NA Goalies)
Jones is accustomed to being a top player. In 2016-17, he was named to the OJHL All-Prospect Team as well as the Top Goaltender Prospect. He made various Team Canada iterations in Junior A and at the under-17 level. He also participated this year in the Canada/Russia Series for Team OHL. Jones knows what it means to be a top player, and likely won’t have any reason to doubt that stature at the 2019 draft.
All in all, Jones has the tools and drive to become a starting goaltender in the NHL. But, as we all know, for any goalie to reach his potential, development time is key. Expect Jones to play at least one more season in the OHL to hone his trade and then a stint of two to three years in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL.