A Troy Terry “love fest” has turned a corner in light of the news that the Anaheim Ducks have sent Max Jones to the AHL.
Despite the name of this article, when I began this piece, I had every intention of it being a love fest for one of the Anaheim Ducks’ favorite rookies, Troy Terry. The type of love one gives to 5th round picks that end up being regular everyday NHL players. The type of love one gives to a player who is already exceeding his predicted NHLe scoring (based on his draft year dynamics.)
To clarify that last bit, NHLe is a conversion tool that produces a very rough average of what type of scoring a player might produce in the NHL based on their prior results. Most typically, this is taken from their draft year. Terry, based on his draft year, would be looking at a career-high 15 points in the NHL.
Today, he sits on 18 point pace. A minor improvement, yet when taking into account future growth by averaging out aging curves, and he now presents as a 20-25 point producer in his prime years. A 5-to-10 point swing is not nothing. Conversely, it shows clear progression and improvement.
Naysayers might suggest that he’s a bust, who cannot score even with Ryan Getzlaf bouncing pucks off him, yet that may be too harsh of a call. There are very few 5th round draft picks that become regular NHL players and even fewer who are given the right to play top-line minutes. In most cases, it is more efficient and cheaper for a team to take a chance on other team’s former first or second-round pick and turn them into a grinder an NHL player.
For instance, Andrew Cogliano was a former first-round pick who came to the Anaheim Ducks cheaply, before playing up and down the lineup. Bryan Allen was a former 4th overall draft pick before settling into a 3rd pairing role with the Ducks. So, the talk of lack of progression regarding Troy Terry is somewhat false and definitely unfair. At least that was the idea I pitched to the editor.
Max Jones Should be in the Anaheim Ducks Lineup
Unfortunately, like all good plans, it came off the rails when the news of Max Jones being sent to the AHL came to light. For those who have read my work at previous stops, and even as early as this season, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Jones. At least, as big of a fan of a prospect that isn’t future Anaheim Ducks captain and best player in the world, Brad Lambert (hey if politicians can campaign early, I can too!!)
Once upon a time, I thought that he had the potential to be the best power forward in his draft class. Sure, power forwards are, for the most part, a relic of a bygone era. Yet, there is still a place for strong and fast bull-at-the-gate style of players. Jones, at the time, had a shockingly bad temperament that often got him into trouble, yet he had size and speed and knew where to go on the ice.
It’s often the case that bigger players in junior come unstuck when they reach pro ranks, and they’re no longer the player with the biggest reach, and the most mass to throw around. Yet, it can’t be said that Jones has struggled in that regard.
During even-strength play, Jones is ranking 3rd amongst the Ducks forwards for individual scoring chances when accounting for time on ice. He also slots in 1st overall for high danger chances. Most viewers would only remember him from him moving in on the goalie with speed, and indeed he is a top 9 forward on the team for rush attempts as well. Further pushing those offensive stats, he also has the 3rd highest rate for shooting the puck, which subsequently, has helped him to the 5th spot amongst Anaheim Ducks forwards for expected goals.
All of that isn’t to say that Jones is a saint or a superstar in the making. He isn’t. Anyone who has seen his game has to have seen his lack of shooting ability. The guy simply doesn’t have the hands to be a big-time scorer in the NHL. He does, however, slot in at 7th amongst the Ducks forwards in goals per minute of play. This is above players such as Top 6 stalwarts like Ondrej Kase and Troy Terry.
On special teams as well, he’s performed as well as any. For instance, when on the power play, and in admittedly minimal minutes (7:48), he ranks the highest amongst Ducks for shots, individual expected goals, individual Corsi attempts, and individual scoring chances. He also sits 4th for high danger chances and has drawn the 3rd most penalties.
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In minimal minutes (11:22) on the penalty kill, he sits around 6th best on the team for most defensive (and offensive) metrics. These figures may not be notable given how poorly the Ducks special teams are functioning this season, yet they fit in nicely compared to some of his more highly touted team-mates.
How this has anything to do with Terry, is that Jones is exceeding him in nearly all major statistical categories as well as the underlying metrics which may or may not support them. All of which makes the Anaheim Ducks decision to move Max Jones to the AHL somewhat baffling.
Sending Max Jones to the AHL was a Mistake
If we assume the Ducks are rebuilding– a term which has not come from the Anaheim Ducks themselves– then it certainly makes sense to blood their youth. One could definitely make the argument that there are only so many minutes to go around and that Jones could get a chance to discover his scoring touch in the AHL. But, is that thinking correct in this instance?
Physically, Jones appears ready to be an NHL player. His underlying metrics suggest that he’s getting to the right places on the ice, and he’s performing the tasks he’s been given. He isn’t getting top 6 minutes with the Ducks premier players on a regular consistent basis, so the Ducks shouldn’t be asking for more production from him, which is his only real flaw at this stage of his development. Will producing in the AHL translate to the producing in the NHL? Historically this is unlikely. Thus it seems that Jones just isn’t part of the Ducks immediate plans.
Riddle me this: Does a rebuilding team play a young prospect who is underscoring, yet is a forerunner in many non-traditional categories, if they hope to develop that player into a future star? Do they play that player above older players with lower ceilings whose main value is to get into a fight when the team is losing? Do they give that young player the opportunity to play with other already established and quality players, as well as in situations they might be able to excel? For instance, soft minutes on the power play. Do they give that player consistency and a role to build towards?
Sending Jones to the AHL is a mistake. While I certainly appreciate that Dallas Eakins has given prospects such as Terry his undying love and support, he is letting a prospect with superior stats and a potentially higher ceiling wilt away. It is a great move in a rebuild to play the kids in situations where they may be able to shine. In the case of Terry, maybe playing with Getzlaf unlocks his scoring potential. Whether they believe Terry has a place with them going forward or not (and there is no indication they don’t want him), a high scoring prospect has value, either as a player or as trade bait.
With the same logic, it’s long since time that Jones is given the chance to showcase his abilities with high ability offensive players. He played a couple of games with Getzlaf recently, and they scored. It was a line that has produced near the highest number of high danger chances of any other player Getzlaf has played with. That speaks to potential. The Anaheim Ducks may not like Jones as a future piece, however, propping up his scoring statistics and showcasing his abilities only makes him more attractive if they need a trade chip to acquire a future $4 million per season traffic cone.
I’d not suggest that Jones should be a top-line fixture, although nor would I suggest that Getzlaf’s linemates from the LA Kings game deserved to be there either. I would, however, suggest that Jones should be granted power play time. He should be given a player who can score in some capacity and be given a role that allows him to translate his skill set into a successful career. Even should he play on the 4th line with Derek Grant and Carter Rowney, he could pick up the skills and knowledge those wiley veterans could impart to him.
If we think about it rationally, is Nicolaus Deslauriers going to hold more value to the team in the future than Max Jones? Sticking a former first-round pick into a bottom 6 grinders role helps not the player and not the team. I’ll say it again. Sending Jones to the AHL is a mistake!
Statistics are true as of the 4/12/19. NHLe score was calculated manually from previous data provided by Manny Elk (publically available via twitter (and probably in other places too, if you scroll back far enough). Other data used within, was collected from naturalstattrick.com.