While the New York Rangers have a solid defensive corps, there is still one open spot left for the taking. Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren will continue to act as the top defensive pairing, K’Andre Miller and Jacob Trouba will serve as a great secondary, but Braden Schneider remains the only consistent defenseman on the third pairing. If the Rangers were to look within the organization to fill that role, Zac Jones is the obvious choice.
Jones has prior NHL experience with the Rangers
The Rangers recently signed Erik Gustafsson to a one-year deal this offseason, but it may be more beneficial to have him serve as a depth player in the AHL, propelling young Zac Jones into the spotlight. While not having played a full NHL season yet, Jones has been given the opportunity to play a handful of games in all three of his career years.
In 38 career games, Jones has tallied one goal and seven assists for eight points. It isn’t terrible for a defenseman, but there is room for improvement.
The best way for Jones to fully acclimate to the intensity of the NHL is for the Rangers to give him as much playing time as possible. He wound’t be receiving much time on ice on the third defensive pairing, but at least playing a full 82 games barring any injuries will help Jones fully develop into a proper NHL defenseman.
The continuous cycle of only playing Jones an average of 13 games per season will ultimately stunt his growth. The Rangers need to decide whether to give Jones a full time roster spot, or consider moving on.
If Jones were to be given proper ice time, there is no doubt that he would flourish. He has shown many signs of being a star, and has the potential to develop into a top player on the Rangers in a few years. At just 22 years old, the ceiling is very high for this young prospect.
“It is believed that the Rangers think Jones has outgrown the American Hockey League, which means the offense-minded blueliner should be given every opportunity to establish himself as a full-time NHL player next season.”via NY Post
Schneider needs to develop consistent chemistry
While Braden Schneider remains as the right defenseman on the third pairing, he has seen a revolving door of players on the left side since earning that role. In order for Schneider himself to succeed, he needs to have a consistent, reliable partner with which he can grow.
Fox and Lindgren, for example, have been consistent partners on the first defensive pairings for the majority of their careers. They stand among the best defensive lines in the league, due to their understanding of each other’s playing styles and unwavering chemistry.
Having Jones finally step into a full-time role will help Schneider prosper as well. The two young defenseman can develop as similar chemistry to that of Fox and Lindgren, creating an opportunity for them to work their way up the ranks together.