ANAHEIM – Striking a cut and well-proportioned 215 pounds on his hulking 6-foot-3 frame, Max Jones no doubt carries the physique of a mature NHL player.
A heaping slice of confidence comes with that. It is evident in simple conversation with fellow Ducks prospects within a locker room, or assessing his desire to make the leap from junior hockey to a Western Conference power in front of inquiring reporters. At 19, Jones already carries a presence.
His response to a question about being challenged enough in the Ontario Hockey League is a bold one.
“I don’t know if it’s about that,” Jones said at the Ducks’ prospect camp earlier this month. “I just think … I won a Memorial Cup. I think it’s time to move on and try to win a Stanley Cup. That’s kind of what my idea is.
“I want to step into the big leagues and I want to … for years and years I’ve been watching teams win that Stanley Cup and that’s all I want to do right now. Start playing and try to win a Stanley Cup.”
Quickly following that up with a clarification that he’s not knocking the competition level of playing with juniors, Jones just spoke of his eagerness to bang bodies with someone such as Dustin Byfuglien. Yes, that 6-foot-5, 265-pound Dustin Byfuglien.
But it’s one thing to have the look or even the desire. Making the jump to the NHL from playing in the Western Hockey League or the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League or, in Jones’s case, the OHL’s London Knights, is a feat. Showing that he could chase down fellow Ducks winger prospect Jack Kopacka, force a turnover and create a scoring chance in a camp scrimmage is nice. Nice is hardly enough.
Unless you’re Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid or, to a lesser extent, the Ducks’ Cam Fowler, it is a leap that comes with a lot of challenges most aren’t ready for on the first try. And it isn’t as if Jones tore up the OHL and made it his personal…