Zac Jones makes it clear to the Rangers; “I think I deserve to play in the NHL”

New York Rangers’ Zac Jones has the right attitude. On top of that you have to love his confidence. As the team heads into the final two exhibition games, with the 6th defenseman spot open according to Gerard Gallant, Jones made his thoughts abundantly clear.

“I think I deserve to play in the NHL,” Jones replied to a question on how he would feel if he were to start in Hartford.

“If I get sent down, I’m not going to complain about it, I’m not going to be mad,” he explained. “I’m going to go down there and work as hard as I can to get myself back up to the NHL.”

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Zac Jones has been impressive in camp

Since Development Camp opened, the 20 year-old defenseman, who was selected in the third round of the 2019 Draft has been stellar. Jones was excellent in the two rookie games against the Flyers and even outshined Nils Lundkvist, whom he’s battling for the last spot.

In his first preseason contest, Jones picked up a beautiful assist on the power play in NY’s 3-2 win over Boston. His final stat line was 1 assist, with a +1 rating and 3 shots on goal. Jones played on the PP and SH, finishing with 18:32 of ice time.

Jones followed that up with a decent performance in a blowout game. New Jersey thrashed the Rangers 7-1, but he managed to only be a -1 while totaling 22:35 of ice time. The most of any Blueshirts blue-liner that night.

However; Nils has found another gear and registered 3 assists while showing the talents that made him a first round selection. In particular, his shot and ability to quarterback a power play. This has given Lundkvist the edge in camp.

The Rangers will play the Devils on Wednesday and the Islanders on Saturday. It’s likely that Jones will at least get into the next game to make one more statement.

Jones has top four potential

Jones is not a big physical defenseman, but his skating and puck moving ability make him standout. Furthermore, he has something very important going for him and that is high hockeyIQ.

I know, what is hockeyIQ? Is there a test? Can you look at his grades? Simply put, Jones seems to know where the puck is and his relation to it at all times. He’s even drawn comparisons to Adam Fox, and not just because they are basically the same exact size.

Zac Jones
Apr 22, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Zac Jones #6 of the New York Rangers skates a solo lap to start warm ups before the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

His UMASS head coach, Greg Carvel had some glowing remarks about him before he signed his ELC. “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.”

So far, it’s hard to argue with Carvel’s assessment.

Jones joined the Rangers late last season and played in 10 games recording 4 assists. He certainly did not look out of place and was extremely poised. Whether he makes the team out of camp or not, there’s a bright future in the NHL for him.

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