Jones not overshadowed in draft chase

Aaron Vickers2016 Draft Center, Features

It’d be easy for Max Jones to lose a little of the spotlight when suiting up for the London Knights.

The Memorial Cup-winning Knights boast, arguably, the top defenseman eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft in Olli Juolevi. Ranked even higher is draft eligible forward London forward Matthew Tkachuk.

Mitchell Marner, selected fourth overall 12 months ago, was third in Ontario Hockey League scoring with 116 points in 57 games. Ahead of him in second was linemate and Arizona Coyotes prospect Christian Dvorak, who netted 121 points.

Understandably, Jones might’ve felt a little overshadowed.

But the projected first round pick was more than satisfied with how his draft season went.

“I think I had a really good season,” Jones said. “I was playing second, third line. I wasn’t playing a ton with those top guys and I put up a good amount of points. I didn’t have a lot of power play time and had good even-strength numbers. My plus/minus was good.

“I think I did really well.”

He’s not wrong.

Jones had 28 goals and 52 points in 63 games as a rookie. The bruising 6-foot-3, 205-pound forward added 106 minutes in penalties, too.

It was an added dimension to the Knights.

“Jones is an interesting player in that he plays with a ton of aggression and power and has the size and strength to match it,” Future Considerations scout Scott Wheeler said. “You don’t often find bulky players who are excellent skaters, but Jones has straightaway and lateral speed. “

Juolevi, who battled Jones in practice all season, said that package is matched with an even more impressive work ethic.

“He’s a really hard worker, for sure one of the hardest workers in the whole league,” Juolevi said. “He’s a good skater, and a big guy. He’s really strong. He’s the guy who you want to have on your team and not be on the opposite team. He brings so much energy and power.”

The blend has assured Jones of a trip to the main stage on the first day of the NHL Draft.

He’s earned his position as the 20th ranked prospect in Future Considerations’ final ranking for the 2016 NHL Draft.

And with his profile, Jones doesn’t feel overshadowed.

Far from it.

If anything, having the likes of Tkachuk, Juolevi, and fellow draft eligibles Cliff Pu, Victor Mete and Tyler Parsons around has helped share in the spotlight.

And help ease the pressure.

Though Jones doesn’t know any other way.

“I guess I wouldn’t know if it was just me or just one other guy in their draft year,” Jones said. “I’ve got five or six other guys here. It’s nice to share the experience. You’re going through the same thing. It’s nice to have that experience with them.”