National champ Jones leaves UMass back end after two years, signs NHL contract with Rangers

Zac Jones was a steady defender during the 2020-21 season on the UMass back end (photo: Rich Gagnon)

The New York Rangers announced Tuesday that the team has agreed to terms with Massachusetts sophomore defenseman Zac Jones on an entry-level contract.

In signing the contract, Jones gives up his last two seasons of NCAA eligibility with the Minutemen.

Jones skated in 29 games with UMass this season, registering nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points, along with a plus-17 rating as the Minutemen won the national championship.

Jones was named to the NCAA East Second All-American Team this season, as well as the Hockey East Second All-Star Team and the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team. He ranked second among NCAA defensemen in goals, ranked third among NCAA defensemen in points, tied for third among NCAA defensemen in shots on goal (84), and tied for eighth among NCAA defensemen in assists this season.

Among NCAA defensemen who were either a freshman or sophomore in 2020-21, Jones ranked first in points and shots on goal, ranked second in goals, and tied for third in assists. He ranked second on UMass in shots on goal, ranked third in assists, tied for third in points, and tied for fourth in goals in 2020-21.

The native of Glen Allen, Va., skated in 61 career games with UMass, registering 12 goals and 35 assists for 47 points, along with a plus-29 rating and 32 penalty minutes.

Jones was selected by the Rangers in the third round (68th overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft.