"I have a little bit of passion for the young Kellen Jones. He played on the Vernon Vipers who won back to back World Bank Cups. He's a very competitive player. His dad is Terry Jones who played for the Portland Winterhawks many years ago and the U of C and really highly-competitive family and he plays with his twin, Connor, it's unfortunate we couldn't get them both. Really, those two players turned the Vernon Vipers on their ear when they arrived there at 17 and carried them through two national championships.
Yeah, he is small, he's five-nine-and-a-quarter but he's got a heart as big as a five-nine-and-a-quarter."
--Stu MacGregor on Kellen Jones
Kellen Jones was drafted by the Oilers in the seventh round (#202 overall) in 2010. The video and transcribed quote above show that this was Stu MacGregor's call. Kellen and twin brother Connor had already committed to Quinnipiac University and they kept to that commitment.
|2010 - Kellen Jones||38||8||14||22||19||33||87||2.29|
|2011 - Kellen Jones||8||3||5||8||38||14||27||3.38|
I recently had the chance to watch Jones play on October 21st at Robert Morris University in an out of conference game for the Bobcats. Jones is off to a fast start this season in non-conference play with 8 points in 8 games. He's not yet started the tough slog through the ECAC, but his early season numbers look great. His point-per-game pace comes with a caveat --he had 7 points in 7 non-conference games to start last season, but ended with only 15 in his last 31 as the conference schedule kicked in. He was outscored by his brother last season and again this season thus far.
Jones plays on Quinnipiac's second line with his brother at center and plays on the Bobcats' second power play unit. He and his brother are both listed at 5'9" 165 lbs, but to the eye, Kellen is wider than his lithe brother. Connor is an agitator, Kellen is a playmaker. Connor was under the Colonials' skin throughout the game, talking constantly, hitting people early and late and stirring things up after the play in the scrums. Kellen tries to create with each handle, stickhandling and moving his feet, looking for empty ice. He's a lurker - he spends time in the defensive end and offensive end just off of the main play, looking for opportunities to jump in and make a play. His style of play is reminiscent of Anson Carter.
When I watch a player live I tend to watch them like a baseball scout would, ranking them on five criteria, my "five-tool player" criteria. Here's my takeaway from watching Jones for a single game:
Skating ability - He's more quick than fast, but not the quickest man on the ice. He tries to do more with his stick than his feet and tries to create no matter the size of space or place. It works when he has numbers, but it's a bad idea as well. There's no "dump it in and track it down" to his game - he's making a play no matter where he is on the ice. If he keeps that up at higher levels - he's going to take some huge hits.
Passing skills - Both his passing skills and stick-handling were outstanding on this night. He showed the ability to stick-handle in a phone booth and threw a couple of passes that made me say "wow" out loud.
Shot - He showed off an excellent wrist shot a number of times. The key to his shot is the way he positions himself to get to the shooting area or soft spot and the way he opens himself up to receive passes in the zone.
Size & strength - He's very small, but he's thicker than his brother, which made it a little frustrating to see Connor winning battles and Kellen not engaging. Both in the offensive end and defensive end, he floats. In a puck battle, he's the guy standing three feet off, waiting for the puck to kick out to him. He wasn't using his body to create, so I don't know how strong he is on his skates.
Defensive skill - Non-existent on this night. It was rare to see him in traffic or battling. This may be by design - he might be the Ryan Jones of his line - stay high and out of the way and stick check the point - or he may not have much defensive ability.
In the end, he strikes me as a guy with an above-average overall skill level, really good stick, puck, and passing skills and an above average shot. He's small and plays smaller, but doesn't have the footspeed to do that at a higher level. If the next two years of NCAA hockey give him the opportunity to develop a more physical game and he amps up the aggressiveness without the puck, he'll be a surefire AHLer.