Zac Jones has decided to leave UMass and has signed an entry-level contract with the New York Rangers.
According to Mollie Walker, the deal includes a signing bonus, and comes in at a cap hit of $832,500 against the cap.
#NYR signs Zac Jones to a three-year ELC contract at $832.5NHL/$70AHL with a signing bonus of $92.5.— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) April 13, 2021
He's heading to New York soon.
Additionally, Larry Brooks previously reported that Jones’ contract won’t include any performance bonuses.
Have learned that no performance bonuses will be included in entry level contract, which is major for NYR. Jones could have become a UFA by staying in school two more seasons. https://t.co/vBTNpz9VBB— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) April 12, 2021
This is important for the Rangers in the big picture, as they have a quite a few players on the roster already carrying big potential bonuses.
For context: I have Fox, Kakko, Kravtsov, Lafreniere & Miller set for #NYR to exceed the bonus cushion by $1.44m next season. Barron graduating to varsity would add another $850k. And Lundkvist another $850k at minimum on top of that (possibly $2.85m if he signs for Schedule B).— HockeyStatMiner (@HockeyStatMiner) April 12, 2021
The Rangers drafted Jones 68th overall in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft, and he leaves the NCAA with a pretty nice two-year resume.
Two years at UMass for Zac Jones:— Colin Casey (@colin_casey7) April 12, 2021
-12 goals, 35 assists, 47 points in 61 games
-2020 Hockey East All-Rookie Team
-2021 CCM/AHCA Second Team All-American
-2021 Hockey East Champion
-2021 National Champion
Damn good two years if you ask me. Best of luck, @zacrj51! https://t.co/CQ0rRPTmvE
The Rangers’ newest defenseman had a strong draft year in which he tallied 52 points in 56 games with the Tri-City Storm, and he followed that up with a strong freshman season with the UMass Minutemen which caused his stock to rise a bit as a Ranger prospect. In the 2019 BSB prospect rankings Jones finished 12th, and moved all the way up to 5th in 2020’s ranking.
The question at the time was whether or not he could do it again, and then he went out and was even better.
Zac Jones (NYR) is everywhere.— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) April 9, 2021
Jones played a primary role on the Minutemen this season, and head coach Greg Carvel had rave reviews about his potential at the NHL level.
Jones turns 21 in October, and turning pro now gives him an opportunity to show what he can do, although he will need to quarantine first.
Can confirm @frank_seravalli report that #NYR is close to signing #UMass Zac Jones.— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) April 12, 2021
Jones’ camp doesn’t know when/if the defenseman will get into the Rangers’ lineup this season. But it appears a deal is on the horizon and Jones will burn a year of his contract.
UPDATE 11:36 a.m. : According to Rick Carpiniello, Jones skated with the team and does not need to quarantine.
David Quinn said Zac Jones arrived this morning and skated. There is no quarantine period. They are going to evaluate him and there is no timetable as to when he might play. #NYR— Rick Carpiniello (@RickCarpiniello) April 13, 2021
In terms of NHL readiness, you never truly know how a player is going to react, and that’s something the Rangers are familiar with.
If the 2020-21 season’s start had not been delayed because the pandemic caused a pause of the 2019-20 season, there’s a chance K’Andre Miller may have started in the AHL. But when the season started in January he was with the Rangers and he’s made the most of his opportunity being one of the bright spots of the season. There’s always the chance Jones needs more time and ends up in the AHL next season to start, but there’s no guarantee of that. For now Jones is part of the fold, and it is another piece of the Rangers’ youth movement falling into place.