April 13: The team has officially announced the Jones contract. The young defenseman has already arrived at the Rangers facility and did not need to go through any quarantine period to join the team at practice. He will not play right away, but could get into games before the end of the season.
April 12: The New York Rangers haven’t made a trade yet, but they’re going to add a player nonetheless. Frank Seravalli of TSN reports that the Rangers are close to signing Zac Jones after his college career came to an end with a national title. Jones will burn the first season of the three-year entry-level contract in 2020-21 and will be eligible to play for the Rangers after going through the required quarantine protocols.
Jones put up 24 points in 29 games for UMass-Amherst this season, his sophomore year in college after being the 68th overall pick in 2019. The somewhat undersized defenseman is a dynamic playmaker and could very well be in the Rangers lineup before the end of the season.
It is somewhat surprising that Jones is signing after just two years at UMass, but it’s another addition to what has become an impressive young group in New York. With Brendan Smith scheduled for unrestricted free agency and Libor Hajek not quite establishing himself as a building block, there will be room for the left-handed Jones before long.
It may be asking a lot for him to grab that spot right away, but getting into the system and joining the team for practice is the only way anyone will know for sure whether he is ready for the next level.