Weight: 196 pounds
Date of birth: September 21, 2000
Hometown: Brantford, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 5, 89th overall, 2016 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season – C Prospect, November – B Prospect
It’s hard to determine what kind of Ontario Hockey League careers most players this age will carve out. Today though, it’s hard to imagine Peterborough Petes’ netminder Hunter Jones not being the first goaltender selected from the OHL at the 2019 National Hockey League Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Jones played his Minor Midget hockey with the Mississauga Reps during the 2015-2016 season. The Petes would select Jones in the fifth round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, 89th overall.
The following season, Jones would go on to man the net for the Stouffville Spirit of the Ontario Junior Hockey League where he posted a 2.74 goals-against-average and .917 save-percentage. He would be named to the league’s second all-prospects team at season’s end.
Last season, Jones made the jump to the OHL – and because of his September 21 birthdate, missed being eligible for last year’s NHL draft by 6 days. That may have been a blessing in disguise for the goalkeeper.
Jones backed up incumbent Dylan Wells in the Petes’ crease and his numbers weren’t anything to write home about. In 15 games he posted a 3-9-1 record with a 5.14 goals-against-average and .866 save-percentage.
There were concerns about goaltending entering this season for the Petes, but Jones has taken the bull by the horns and ran with it. He’s been nothing but a workhorse with little signs of slowing down. He’s appeared in 24 of the Petes 25 games this season. This stat tells a tale: Only 9 Petes’ skaters have appeared in more games then Hunter Jones.
Jones’ record heading into today’s schedule has him at 14-10-0. The above stat goes to show that there have been some key injuries for the Petes and one can only imagine what his win-loss record would be with a healthy squad in front of him. He has literally stolen games the Petes had no business winning.
From the start of the season, he’s been among the league leaders in goals-against-average and save-percentage. No OHL goaltender has appeared in more games, faced more shots and made more saves then Jones.
Jones’ progression this season can be described as otherworldly. At 6’4, he possesses that size that NHL Scouts love. He plays big in his net, even when in the butterfly, he stands tall and doesn’t give shooters the top of the net.
His size also allows him to see through traffic, and even when he can’t see the shooter, he reads things so well that he sets himself up to make a positional save. He moves well for a big guy getting from post-to-post quickly and efficiently and jumps to the top of the blue paint in a hurry. His movements are controlled and rarely does he over commit.
Jones has made some major improvements to his rebound control. He directs pucks out of danger and in areas for teammates to retrieve them, and makes it look relatively easy in doing so. Still, there are things to work on as with any goaltender at this level. But we believe in his commitment level and his abilities to put in the necessary work.
Jones himself will admit that the key for him is to maintain a positive attitude and when things get tough for the team, to continue to work hard and worry about the things he can control. He’s proven to have the mindset to do that.
The Petes are getting calls from NHL Scouts about Jones. I’m not sure he can continue at this pace. The Petes are going to have to find some time to rest him.
But today, he has NHL starter written all over him.
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