Analysis: New York Rangers make it official; sign Zac Jones to ELC expected to play this season

By Anthony Scultore
Zac Jones signs ELC (Photo: Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Fresh off the heels of winning the NCAA National Championships, Blueshirts 3rd round selection in the 2019 Draft is coming to Broadway. Zac Jones rapid rise as one of the best young prospects has been a pleasant surprise to the Rangers.

He’s a steady defenseman that does not make mistakes when pressured in his own zone. His Hockey IQ is well above average, and now he’s added an excellent offensive component to his game. Now he’s signed his ELC which starts this season as the Rangers take no risks that he could become a UFA in two years.

New York Rangers sign NCAA defenseman Zac Jones

Via the NYR Press Release:

The New York Rangers announced today that the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Zac Jones on an entry-level contract.

Jones, 20, skated in 29 collegiate games with UMass this season, registering nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points, along with a plus-17 rating and eight penalty minutes. He helped UMass win the National Championship in 2020-21. Jones was named to the NCAA (East) Second All-American Team this season, as well as the Hockey East Second All-Star Team and the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team, and he also helped UMass win the Hockey East Championship during the season. He ranked second among NCAA defensemen in goals, ranked third among NCAA defensemen in points, tied for third among NCAA defensemen in shots on goal (84), and tied for eighth among NCAA defensemen in assists this season. Among NCAA defensemen who were either a freshman or sophomore in 2020-21, Jones ranked first in points and shots on goal, ranked second in goals, and tied for third in assists. He ranked second on UMass in shots on goal, ranked third in assists, tied for third in points, and tied for fourth in goals in 2020-21.

Analysis of Zac Jones signing

zac jones
Zachary Jones selected 68th overall by the New York Rangers during the 2019 NHL Draft (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

The Rangers made an astute move for a number of reasons here. First off as previously noted by burning a year off his ELC, which is likely something his camp wanted, they remove the possibility of him becoming a UFA in two years. Second and most important, by acquiescing to starting the ELC now they got something in return which is no performance bonuses, per Larry Brooks.

Jones, 20 years-old is expected to go through quarantine procedures and be inserted into the lineup at some point this season. When you look at his rise up the pipeline, being compared as a left-handed version of Adam Fox also goes a long way.

Note: No quarantine was needed; Jones skated with the team today.

UMASS head coach Greg Carvel had some glowing remarks about Jones. “He’s a high high end offensive player – he’ll be a similar player to Adam Fox in New York,” he said. “He’s getting physically stronger. His growth without the puck over the past two years has been outstanding. He’s an outstanding college player and he will be in the NHL someday.”

It looks like someday is coming soon enough. Jones would likely replace Libor Hajek on the third pair left side.