The biggest move the Rangers made at the trade deadline was signing defenseman Zac Jones to an entry level contract. It was a quiet deadline for the blueshirts. They have spent the past few trade deadlines sending away key pieces like Ryan McDonagh, Mats Zuccarello, and Kevin Hayes. For the first time in awhile, the Rangers were not in sell mode at the deadline. Instead they chose to add another one of their highly touted prospects.
Fresh off a National Championship
Zac Jones just spent the last few weeks being a key part of UMASS’s national championship team. He scored a goal in the semi-final against Minnesota-Duluth. Jones was almost a point per game player at UMASS. In 61 games for the Minutemen, Jones had 47 points. For this season, Jones was second in all of the NCAA in goals for defenseman with 9. In addition, he was tied for eighth in assists with 15. Jones has shown he can put up some offense while still being solid on the back end.
Where does he fit in?
Zac Jones will not slot into the lineup immediately for the blueshirts. He spent today practicing with the team and will most likely join near the end of this week or the beginning of next week. He will slide in on the third pair and will most likely be paired with Brendan Smith. The real excitement starts next season for Zac Jones. Jones will likely be paired with highly touted prospect, Nils Lundkvist. Lundkvist was recently voted the best defenseman in the Swedish Hockey League. A Jones-Lundkvist pair is something Ranger fans can salivate over for many years to come.
Jones is another one of the many highly touted prospects in the Rangers system. He will make an immediate impact on the ice. It also signals the possible end of Libor Hajek as an everyday player. Hajek is not of the calibre of defenseman to keep someone like Jones out of the lineup. Therefore, Jones will be a staple in the Rangers lineup once he makes his debut. He is another name on a long list of young and exciting players the Rangers have. Jones joins Adam Fox and K’Andre Miller as the first defensemen to crack the lineup. In addition to these exciting players, they still have Matthew Robertson and Braden Schneider waiting in the wings.
In conclusion, it is a very exciting time to be a Rangers fan. They are the youngest team in the league and have shown the ability to play with the best the NHL has to offer. Consistency is the hardest things to come by for young teams. However, the more this team plays together, the better they will be. And when that time comes, the rest of the NHL better be ready.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)
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