Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin has been busy signing a number of encouraging youngsters to entry-level contracts over the last few days, and he kept the trend going Thursday by signing goalie prospect Hunter Jones to a three-year, entry-level deal.
Jones, 19, is one of the better goalie prospects in hockey. Selected in the second round (No. 59 overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-4, 194-pound netminder put together an admirable season in 2019-20, logging a 31-14-3 record with a .913 save percentage and 2.75 goals against average in 49 games for the OHL’s Peterborough Petes.
In January, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler named Jones the 10th best prospect — ahead of fellow goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen — in Minnesota’s farm system, singling out his athleticism as one of his key traits.
Jones is big and athletic, the two most sought after skills in a goalie today. After a stellar start to this season, he began to generate some real buzz this season, stealing several games for a Petes team that gives up a lot of high-danger chances against (something that I think got overlooked when his numbers weren’t great last year behind a team that rarely helped him out). His play has dropped off since returning from Team Canada’s world junior selection camp though. He’s worth signing and/or giving an opportunity to in the AHL/ECHL.
Minnesota’s biggest weakness the last two years has unquestionably been at the goalie position. Once upon a time, Devan Dubnyk was a workhorse in the cage and one of the top goalies in hockey. Recently, though, he has regressed significantly, and it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll remain a member of the Wild. Alex Stalock has done a solid job taking over in net, but prior to this season, he had never started more than 23 games in a single campaign.
The Wild clearly need goaltending help, so it’s encouraging to see they value (arguably) their top goalie prospect highly enough to sign him to an entry-level deal.