Jamieson Rees ended the season on a high note after a standout performance representing Canada at the World Under-18’s. The problem is that the rest of the season was filled with injuries, a reckless play that led to a suspension, and questions about what his overall upside is.
There is a lot to like about the Sarnia Sting centre, as he plays the game with an edge but can sometimes go over the line. He is almost certainly a second round player but it will be interesting to see when and where he will end up going.
Let’s take a closer look at Jamieson Rees.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / February 26, 2001
- Birthplace: Hamilton, ON, Canada
- Frame: 5-foot-10 / 172 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
Rees is a fantastic skater in all facets. He has fantastic acceleration that allows him to generate speed very quickly and not just in a straight line. His top speed is well above average and his agility and edge work is among some of the best in this draft class.
The Hamilton-born winger uses that skating ability to be a buzz-saw on the ice: constantly on the puck, always pressuring his opponents to give it up and when they do, he’s off to the races. Rees is quick on the forecheck, backcheck, and willing to be physical. There is some concern about him being a little too rambunctious out there, such as this hit that led to an eight-game suspension:
— caitlin berry (@caitlinsports) February 21, 2019
If he can keep his physical play on the right side of the line, it’s a part of his game that stands out in a positive way, even more so given that he isn’t the biggest guy.
Rees uses his tenacious and high pace of play to create offence with a primary focus on being a playmaker. As expected given his skating abilities, Rees is a player that creates offence while in transition and at a high speed. He combines that with some great puck movement and deking that can leave opposing defencemen look silly as he charges at them with speed.
If he doesn’t create the space for a chance for himself, he is able to get passes to his teammates with ease.
He has a quick and accurate release to his shot with a primary focus on wrist and snap shots rather slapshots. His shots lack pure power but come of the blade of his stick with a degree of deception.
Everything he does in the offensive zone is quick: his shot, skating, work along the boards, and deking. There aren’t many players in this draft class that play at the same pace as Rees does.
His defensive zone play is decent with no major quibbles about the overall play. There have times where his spacial awareness in his own zone can lead to opponents getting a step on him but those aren’t constant. He is good at hounding opponents with his quick feet on the backcheck. He continues his physical play along the boards in the defensive zone as well.
He plays as well as you would expect from a smaller centre that relies on tenacity and work ethic. Rees can be out-muscled in the defensive zone but he won’t be out worked. One major positive to his defensive game is that he can breakout the puck quite well and allow his teammates to follow him in transition.
Rees had basically everything possible happen to him this season. He was limited to 37 games this season due to an ankle injury, a lacerated kidney, and then aforementioned suspension. There have been some suggestions that the way he plays will lead him to being labeled as injury prone; that can be a somewhat defensible stance.
From what I can gather, the ankle injury was a re-injury of the ankle as he wasn’t able to get to 100% the first time he sprained it. That should be a thing of the past. A lacerated kidney is a freak incident that shouldn’t indicate that a player is injury prone.
Then there is the concern about him staying on the right side of the line in terms of his suspended hit. There hasn’t been another incident that I have considered reckless. That was a bad hit and he rightfully got suspended but I don’t get the sense that it’s going to be a recurring issue.
Overall, Sarnia was not a great team, ending up with a minus-29 goal differential, were five games under .500 for the season, and gave up 300 goals on the season. This in turn resulted in some disappointing team-related underlying number for Rees. His teammates generally fared worse with him than without him, which is slightly disconcerting.
He also generally lagged behind those forwards in estimated points per hour.
While these trends are worrisome, in other aspects he showed positively. Looking at Mitch Brown’s CHL tracking project, here is how Rees looks:
His individual tracked numbers are encouraging, albeit with small sample size.
Our handy Prospect Graduations Probabilities System, we can see the following expected success rate for Rees.
With 282 matches, Rees has a 19% expected likelihood of becoming an NHL regular. That firmly puts him in the early to the mid second round in terms of success rates in this draft class.
Interestingly though, those matches of that were successful NHLers trended towards the bottom half of the lineup, leading to a rather low expected likelihood of impact, and a third line projection.
It was an odd season for Rees and thus can be hard to really grasp what to expect from him going forward. He had a fantastic Hlinka-Gretzky tournament to start the year that saw him score one goal and three assists in five games. He then ended the season with that standout performance for Canada at the U18’s (2-6-8 in 7 games). The meat of his season was clouded by those injuries and suspension, but while his individual underlying numbers were middling, they don’t present major red flags.
Given that Rees is a centre, he is likely going to go earlier than what the numbers suggest. There is value in his position and the way that he plays. I think that concerns about his injury history and ability to stay on the right side of the line are overblown. His tenacious play makes him a player that is worth targeting; there aren’t many questions about the impact he makes every single time he jumps on the ice.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and ontariohockeyleague.com.
Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out Jamieson Rees’ page here (paywall). Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
Founder and analyst for NextGenHockey.ca — Contributor to The Athletic Vancouver, EliteProspects, CanucksArmy, and Canucks.com.
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