Prospects see their stock fluctuate during their draft seasons for all sorts of reasons. In the case of Jamieson Rees, it is because he’s missed a lot of game time due to injuries and a suspension over the course of his first two OHL seasons. This profile will take a look at the very talented center to see if he could be a good fit for the Devils as they have multiple picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
Who is Jamieson Rees?
According to his OHL page, Jamieson Rees is a 5’10, 171 lbs. left-handed center from Hamilton, Ontario. He was born on February 26, 2001 and just completed his second season in the OHL for the Sarnia Sting. As we can see from his EliteProspects page, Rees played his youth hockey with the Mississauga Reps MHA program prior to his OHL career.
He spent the 2015-16 season with the Mississauga Reps Bantam AAA team in the Greater Toronto Bantam Hockey League. The following season he put up 24 goals and 16 assists in 32 games for the Mississauga Reps Minor Midget AAA team in the Greater Toronto Minor Midget Hockey League. Those totals were good enough to lead his team in goals and points. His 1.25 points per game rate would rank 7th in the GTMMHL, just .03 out of the top five. As a sidenote, Jack Hughes led the league with a 2.21 points per game rate after putting up 73 points in 33 games. Rees would also help his team capture the OHL Cup with 6 goals and 5 assists in 8 games which helped him make the OHL Cup All-Star Team. That strong season would see Rees get selected 9th overall in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft by the Sarnia Sting.
In his rookie season with Sarnia in 2017-18, Rees put up 5 goals and 15 assists in 46 regular season games. He averaged 1.37 shots per game and shot at 7.95% while also winning just 42.63% of his faceoffs. He would put up just one assist in 6 playoff games as their season quickly came to an end. As Mark Malone wrote in The Observer, Rees missed a fair bit of games in his rookie season due to ankle injuries. He missed the first five games of the campaign due to an ankle injury and would end up getting off to a slow start. He re-injured the ankle that November and would go on to miss a month.
This past season would see Rees put up 10 goals and 22 assists in 37 regular season games. He averaged 2.92 shots per game and shot at 9.26% while winning a slightly improved 49.40% of his faceoffs. He would be held to no points in 4 games in Sarnia’s quick playoff exit. Once again he missed a lot of time, partly due to injury and partly due to suspension. As Mark Malone reported in The Observer, Rees missed more than 8 weeks due to a lacerated kidney. Rees would also earn an eight game suspension for this dangerous hit.
Rees is no stranger to international competition. He represented Canada Black U17 at the U17 World Hockey Championship in 2017 where he had a goal and 3 assists in 5 games. Prior to this past season, he helped Canada U18 capture the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with a goal and 3 assists in 5 games. Then this past spring, he was solid once again for Canada U18 with 2 goals and 6 assists in 7 games to boost his draft stock after another turbulent season.
Where is Jamieson Rees Ranked?
- NHL Central Scouting Services - North America - 23 (Midterm), North America - 30 (Final)
- Future Considerations - 93 (Preliminary), 38 (Fall), 73 (Winter), 75 (Spring), 50 (Final)
- Steve Kournianos - The Draft Analyst: 105 (Preseason 400), 58 (Midseason 400), 62 (April Top 500)
Based on these rankings we can see that scouts definitely feel that Rees has a lot of upside despite missing a fair bit of time over the course of his first two OHL seasons. I think the Future Considerations rankings really reflect the up and down season he had.
What Others Say About Jamieson Rees
Brock Otten of OHL Prospects recently published his Top 50 OHL Players available for the draft. Jamieson Rees came in at #5 and here is some of what Otten had to say about the prospect. On a positive note:
His speed is a big time asset. He hits full speed in only a few strides and can create daylight behind opposing defenders. He uses his speed to be a tireless workhorse in all three zones, be it retrieving loose pucks, or racing back to break up an odd man rush. Rees is also extremely skilled with the puck and has the ability to make moves at full speed. As he gets stronger on the puck, I would expect that we’ll see even more of this on display, in addition to him shooting the puck more.
On a cautious note:
Scouts do have very real concerns over his durability considering his lack of size (5’10, 170lbs), and his abrasive style of play. These concerns are brought to light because he’s missed large chunks of time the last two seasons due to significant injuries (ankle injuries, lacerated kidney). A guy like Robby Fabbri isn’t doing him any favours because he’s a similar player with a similar build who scouts had durability concerns about. And he’s had two knee surgeries already, on top of other injuries. Rees also needs to tow the line more effectively. His play can, at times, be deemed reckless.
That’s a lot to take in so I’ll start with the positives. I love reading that he plays hard, knows how to use his above average speed, and is able to think and perform at that high speed to make plays. He will certainly fill out his frame over the next few years so I look forward to seeing how his game develops with that added strength. When it comes to his durability, that is definitely a legitimate concern and a reason why he could fall into the middle portion of the draft. While Rees did have a suspension for a dirty hit this past season, I’m hopeful he can use it as a learning experience and leave that part of his game in the past.
Ben Kerr of Last Word on Hockey had this profile of Rees published a few weeks ago. I thought that it was interesting that he also compared Rees’ game to Robby Fabbri. Anyway, here is some of what he had to say about his skating, offensive game, and defensive game:
He has a quick first step and outstanding acceleration. Rees also has outstanding top-end speed. In addition to being able to create chances for breakaways and odd-man rushes with his speed, his skating also lets him get in quickly on the forecheck, creating pressure and causing errors from the opponent’s defence. His agility and edgework are also elite.
Known for his playmaking ability, he has good vision and the passing ability to find teammates in good scoring areas. He works hard to win battles along the boards, creating turnovers, and quickly getting the puck to a teammate in front of the net...Rees’ wrist shot and snapshot both show accuracy and a quick release...However, his shot lacks power.
He is involved in his own end, backchecking and supporting the defence down low. He plays bigger than his size would indicate, but still has problems containing big, physical opponents off the cycle.
Once again, I’m intrigued to read another glowing report about his skating and playmaking ability. It seems like the type of skill-set that the Devils would really like to add when drafting a forward prospect. As Kerr noted, his shot lacks power but that should improve as he bulks up. As skilled as Rees is offensively, I really like that he’s committed to the defensive side of the game as well.
Mitch Brown had this report on Rees from his CHL Tracking Project available in the below twitter thread. It is a small sample size of just 8 games but it gives you an idea of the positive impact Rees makes in the offensive zone and transition game.
In this small sample, Jamieson Rees (#2019NHLDraft) produced xG + xA1 like a top-end player in 400+ forwards. Diverse offensive player: Well-timed drives to pick up loose pucks, forechecking machine, can dangle anyone, dangerous playmaker around goal. High skill capacity. pic.twitter.com/a1ZG6I98vH— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) February 1, 2019
A Little Video
The first video we have comes from Hockey Prospects Center on YouTube and is a highlights package from his 2018-19 OHL season.
The second video we have comes from Puck Prodigy on YouTube and is a highlights package from his recent U18 World Championship tournament.
Rees really comes as advertised with the way he’s able to utilize his skating to split defensemen, create space and chances for himself and others, and his hard nosed style of play. I really liked the way he was able to handle the puck in tight spaces as well.
An Opinion of Sorts
Despite the injuries and amount of missed games over his first two OHL seasons, I hold a very favorable opinion of Rees. He has some of the best skating in the draft class with his great acceleration, high top-speed, and superb edgework. He’s able to think the game at a high speed and produce dangerous offensive chances before his opponent’s can react accordingly. He also seems calm under pressure and is able to use his stick to keep possession of the puck even with opponents on him in tight spaces. Rees has been praised for his work ethic and commitment to defense across multiple outlets which is encouraging. For a player that is yet to fill out his frame, he plays a heavy game, frequently looking to make a hit to disrupt his opposition. While he has been reckless at times, that is something you can help him tame as he develops over the next few seasons.
My main concern with Rees is his injury history and amount of developmental time he has already missed. Then again, he probably wouldn’t be available to the Devils in the 2nd or 3rd round if not for these injuries as some believe he possesses first round level talent. With all the picks that the Devils have, I wouldn’t mind taking a shot on him in the 2nd or 3rd round should he be available. His speed, two-way game, and work ethic seem very intriguing to add to the prospect pool.
What are your thoughts on Jamieson Rees as a prospect? Would you be in favor of seeing the Devils select him with a mid-round pick? What parts of his game that stand out to you in a positive or negative way? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!