If I had to pick one skill that nearly all prospects should try to excel in, then it's skating. No matter whether your strengths lie in creating offense, firing off shots, covering opponents, winning draws, and boding people in the slot or along the boards, you will need to be able to skate well. Those skills won't be so effective if getting from Point A to Point B on the ice is a challenge. The subject for today's prospect profile can claim skating as something he is exceptional at: Peterborough Petes forward, Jonathan Ang.
Who is Jonathan Ang?
According to Elite Prospects, Jonathan Ang is an 18-year old right shooting center and winger for the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. Ang just completed his second season with the Petes. He's listed at 5'11" and 163 pounds at EP. The OHL website has him at 5'11" and a 160 pounds. Either way, he needs weight by way of muscle. His stats show an improvement over his rookie season with the Petes, including a notable playoff performance. As per Elite Prospects, Ang went from 20 to 49 points and went from one point in five playoff games to nine in seven playoff games.
Before jumping into the stats, it's worth looking at the OHL Coaches Poll from 2015-16. Every season, the coaches of the OHL are asked to name who's improved the most, who's got the best shot, and other superlatives. Ang was tied with Sean Day and Mitchell Vande Sompel as a runner up for the Eastern Conference's Best Skater. Given that Michael McLeod didn't even make the runner up list, it's a strong group of skaters. Ang being named here is exceptional.
Now let's jump a little bit into the numbers. Again, there was a big improvement in his production from his rookie season. Ang's 49 points ranked fourth on the Petes this season. He only had 127 shots on net, or an average of 1.86 shots per game. Shooting at 16.5% seems a bit high to me but there's only one season of data for that so maybe not. With 506 faceoff attempts, he played center for at least a part of the season. Given that he only won 227 of them - or 44.9% - I can see why he would be moved to wing. Ang had a few power play points and a shorthanded goal so he was used on at least some of Peterborough's special teams.
What helps him standout a bit would be his playoffs. After Valentine's Day, Ang put up seven goals and seven assists in the team's last fifteen games. In the OHL playoffs, the Petes went the distance with North Bay. In those seven games, Ang posted three goals and six assists with a massive Game 6 performance of one shorthanded goal and three primary assists. While the Petes got decisively beaten in Game 7, Ang led the team in playoff scoring and played a big role why the series went that far. Not bad for someone who was well behind his team's top three scorers. While it is a short series, a strong playoff performance helps get attention. For a prospect, that's all one needs for a team to take a closer look and decide to draft them. Just ask Scott Wedgewood.
What Others Say About Jonathan Ang
Ang was ranked 95th among North American skaters by Central Scouting Services, so he's definitely not someone who's received a lot of attention. But there's some views that are worth looking into. Since Ang played in the OHL, let's start with the premier OHL blog on the Internet: Brock Otten's OHL Prospects. Otten ranked Ang 32nd on his list of Top 50 OHL Prospects for the 2016 NHL Draft. Here's what he wrote about Ang:
Closed out the season exceptionally well and I was really disappointed that he didn't get an invite to the U18's. In his final 22 games (including the playoffs), Ang had 10 goals and 13 assists, averaging over a point per game. While he saw a lot of time at center early in the year, it wasn't until he shifted to the wing where he found a lot of success. Playing the wing allows him to use his speed (among the best in this draft class) to his advantage and play a simpler game. I give him a lot of credit for improving his play away from the puck as this season progressed too. By season's end he was using his speed to be disruptive on the forecheck and the backcheck. To go with blinding speed, Ang also possesses terrific hands and stick handling ability, which makes him very difficult to stop one on one. Really the only thing he's missing is strength and size. I'm definitely way more convinced of him being a serious NHL prospect than I was 4 months ago. His performance in the playoffs is indicative of that. But I'm hoping he stays on the wing.
Otten clearly thinks pretty highly of Ang in that he thought he should have on Canada's squad for the World Under-18 Juniors Tournament. He also clearly thinks he should stick to right wing and that all he needs is weight. Still, it's plenty of good stuff in that Otten notes that Ang has improved all season. That's generally good to see as it can indicate a prospect is developing for the better after weeks or months of practice and game experience.
Steve Kournianos at The Draft Analyst recently posted up his mock draft selections for the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds for this year. He has Ang going in the sixth round at 163rd overall to Ottawa. The selection comes with a short description of Ang. Here's what Kournianos wrote about him:
Creative speedster with the ability to fight through a dense network of opposing checkers. Ang is not only fast and skilled, but he has excellent on-ice awareness and overall hockey sense. His biggest issue is size, as he’s listed at 5’11 but with a meager playing weight of 165 pounds. He’s terrific in the open, which goes without saying. But Ang isn’t your typical amateur roadrunner who relies solely on quickness to achieve results. He’s dedicated towards making the right decisions that are in the team’s best interests rather than for personal gain, and you will see Ang — as fast as he is — dig in and lend support to his defensemen below the circles or along the boards. Whether or not he makes an impact isn’t the point — he’s a offensive dynamo he clearly understands there’s more to the game than scoring. Ang is slippery with the puck and uses his hands to finish off plays from in tight. If you play the puck, you’re begging for a crooked number on the scoreboard.
As with Otten, Kournianos sees Ang as a fast winger who can do some great things on the puck - he notes Ang's speed and his puck-handling - and will work hard off the puck. That part about "whether or not he makes an impact" when Ang is on defense makes me raise an eyebrow. While Otten noted Ang has improved, I now wonder if he needs further improvement on 'D.' That he's dropping back to help out is encouraging, though.
In searching for information on Ang, I came across two game reports on the player. Paul Berthelot at Buckeye State Hockey has been reviewing OHL games weekly throughout this past season. Here's what Berthelot wrote about Ang after the week of December 9 (check it out also for a chart detailing his entries and Corsi):
Ang struggled against Kingston as most of the Petes did. It doesn’t take a genius to see why; he couldn’t turn his controlled zone entries into shot attempts. It’s the same situation he had against Sarina and Oshawa. He continues to be too patient with the puck which allows defencemen to close the gap and take the puck from him. He also needs to be better with his decision making.
Later in the season, Ang made Berthelot's reports for the week of February 28 which is more or less an interview with the player. Also with a chart detailing his entries and Corsi.
I have said in previous reports that I like Ang’s defensive game, and so do the Petes, as he’s used frequently on their top penalty kill unit. Ang, however, is a bit more reserved. “I do have to work on my defense a little bit, as I think I’m more of an offensive player.” But Ang is fully aware of the importance of the two-way game, especially if he plans on continuing to move up to higher levels of hockey. “You need to be good at both (offense and defense) to get to the next level, so I just keep working on everything I can whether its offense, defense, centre, wing, or even defense if I have to.” Ang continued, “I try to be one of the players who’s asked to go do the special things, to play special teams.”
What I like here is that Berthelot highlighted that Ang has played significant minutes on the team's PK and his defensive game is appreciable. From the whole post, I got the sense that Berthelot's opinion got better as the season went on, which is consistent with the notion that he's improved. He also notes that Ang has played more at wing, although Ang himself told him that he would rather be at center.
After Peterborough's season ended, Berthelot had an excellent post at Buckeye State Hockey focusing on Ang as a prospect this season. His shooting was highlighted; namely because Ang wasn't doing it enough. Here's the relevant section of the post, which you really should read the whole thing:
Where Ang struggled though was turning those controlled entries into shot attempts. Ang had 156 total entries in the 33 games tracked, 126 controlled and 30 uncontrolled. Of the 156 entries Ang had he was only successful on 52% of them. Once Ang gained the zone he would almost stop and immediately look for a passing option. There were many times where I felt he could have beaten the defencemen wide with his speed and take the puck to the net, but instead he elected to make a pass. Many passes were forced causing his team to lose possession of the puck.
What ended up happening a lot of the time was the defencemen knew Ang wasn’t going to shoot and could cheat ever so slightly to the pass. Ang wasn’t aggressive enough with the puck to make defencemen think twice about that.
Just after that section I quoted, Berthelot notes an example where Ang actually did elect to be aggressive and fire a shot - and it went in. As much as that's an example of him having a good shot, Berthelot's conclusion is that while he may not be a volume shooter, choosing to be more selfish to shoot would open up more opportunities to make plays to others. I can agree and with Berthelot's tracking of his zone entries, Ang and the Petes could stand to gain even more offensive production (shots, goals, points, etc.) if Ang does this more often. With an overage scorer leaving the Petes, he'll have that incentive to do so. Berthelot also concludes that Ang would be someone to look for in the second half of the draft. After reading
A Little Video
There's not a lot of video on Youtube of Jonathan Ang playing. However, he has two highlight-reel worthy goals. First, from his rookie campaign, Ang finished this flashy play on March 5, 2015 against London:
That's right, he went between the legs to beat the defender and then used his speed to cut across the front of the net to go around the goalie. That's an impressive showing of his puckhandling, speed, and confidence. You have to be feeling good to pull that off.
More recently, here's Ang scoring the game winning goal (7-6!) in Game 3 against North Bay in the 2016 OHL Playoffs.
I like this clip because it's more than just the goal. Ang smartly goes to the middle of the defensive zone after recognizing he doesn't need to stay on #16. Once his teammate makes the pass up to Steven Lorentz, then Ang starts to speed up ice. This gave him enough room to get through the zone without getting ahead of the play and going offside. Lorentz played him perfectly into the zone and then Ang just went wide around the defense, burst towards the middle well ahead of the defenders, and won a big game. That's good play all around the heroic score by Ang.
An Opinion of Sorts
Between Otten, Berthelot, and Kournianos, my conclusion is that Ang would be somebody I'd like the Devils to take a look at in the middle rounds of the draft. His strides while skating look smooth and that he can be fast when he needs to be are both positives. As I stated in the beginning of the profile being able to skate rather well is crucial for any kind of player to succeed. He's indeed a speedy Pete. I'm encouraged by the fact Ang is more than someone who can only contribute with the puck. That he's improved on defense and has played on Peterborough's special teams suggest to me he'll get better and that will be helpful. That he's got very good hands also helps although I agree with Berthelot that he should choose to fire it himself more often. Given that he'll likely have to step on Peterborough next season, I'm hoping he will. Oh, and he has to get stronger and bigger. That can be worked on; he's not tiny just thin.
I don't know about you, but these are plenty of positives for someone slated to go somewhere between the fourth and seventh rounds. Given that the Devils could use a right-handed shot at wing in their system and he's got offensive skills to go with his skating, I would definitely not mind if Ang is one of the team's fourth round picks in this year's draft. Should he slip to the fifth or sixth rounds, then I would be more pleased if the Devils take him then. I get the impression that with continued improvement in the OHL, he'll end up being a good "find" in the middle portion of the draft. Someone that you look at and wonder "How come he didn't go a little earlier?" That's the sense I'm getting with Ang.
Jonathan Ang has the wheels, has the hands, and has plenty to work on but could turn out to be somebody someday. What about Ang impresses you the most? What about him concerns you? Would you want the Devils to take him? If so, why and (maybe more importantly) when? If not, why not? If you've seen him play at Peterborough in this past season, then what did you think of Ang? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Ang in the comments. Thank you for reading.