The second day of Ducks rookie camp is in the books, and there were a couple standouts on the ice this morning at The Rinks - Anaheim ICE.
Max Jones, Anaheim's first-round selection in this past June's NHL Draft, looked every bit like the player who helped lead the London Knights to a Memorial Cup Championship last season. Selected 24th overall, the 18-year-old was dynamic and explosive this morning during various drills led by San Diego Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins and his coaching staff.
Jones posted 52 points (28g/24a) and a +30 rating over 63 games in his rookie OHL season. The 6-3, 205-pound winger was a finalist for the OHL Rookie of the Year Award after ranking tied for second among league rookies in goals.
The Rochester, Michigan native attended prospect development camp in July, but says the intensity this time around is far greater. Jones is battling against professionals, including left wings Nic Kerdiles (ANA 2nd rd., 36th in 2012), Nick Ritchie (ANA 1st rd., 10th in 2014), and defensemen Shea Theodore (ANA 1st rd., 26th in 2013) and Brandon Montour (ANA 2nd rd., 55th in 2014).
"Quicker pace, but I enjoy it," Jones said. "If they're battling 100 percent, it makes me a better player. That's what separates junior hockey from the pros. When everyone is playing their best, it makes everyone else better. I feel like I get better every time I step on the ice with those guys."
Jones and his rookie camp teammates will travel to Colorado tomorrow following on-ice work at Anaheim Ice for two Rookie Showcase games against Colorado Avalanche and San Jose prospects on Sunday and Monday, respectively. The thought of real game action has the outgoing 18-year-old chomping at the bit.
"Especially playing against those teams, I can actually start hitting," he said, with a smile. "I don't want to hit any of my teammates. I'm excited to get physical and put the puck in the net."
The other notable standout player from today's session was right wing Nick Sorensen. Though he's been sidelined with injuries over the past few years, the 21-year-old continually drove the play with his NHL-level speed. He's got good size, too, coming into rookie camp standing 6-2 and weighing 185 pounds. Drafted in the second round (45th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Sorensen collected 23 points (10g/13a) in 37 games with Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League last season.
Perhaps Sorensen's best work today came in the form of puck protection in tight between the dots. And much like Jones, Sorensen isn't afraid to use his size to gain inside positioning against defenders.
Rookie camp continues tomorrow with on-ice work beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Anaheim Ice. The session is open to the public and free of charge.