Since J.R. Avon signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers 14 months ago, the forward has made excellent progress.
In his first 18 games with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League this season, he had 10 goals and 18 points.
The Flyers signed him after his performance in development and rookie camp. He showed speed and an ability to get quick shots on goal. The Flyers drafted his teammate, defenseman Brian Zanetti, in June of 2021, and they certainly scouted Avon, so this didn’t come out of nowhere.
During the 2021-22 season, Avon scored 68 points. He had 29 goals, and was the Peterborough Petes’ third leading scorer. Sometimes players slip through the draft. It happens. But it doesn’t lessen their value as a player. Now that he’s signed, he has the same chance as a first-round player to play for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Avon is scoring more goals because he’s taking more shots this year. The forward has more confidence. His goal numbers this season are gaudy. This prospect has a lot of different ways to put the biscuit in the basket. His backhand, one-timer, and wrist shot are all pro quality.
Avon, 19, is a patient passer, too. He draws the defense to him and by doing that he creates space for his linemates. Avon creates on the rush. To play in the NHL, you must be able to make plays at speed. So far, it looks like he can do that.
Avon is an excellent power-play distributor. He gets a lot of respect on the ice and has a fair amount of space to operate. In the OHL, that’s great and that respect is getting him results on the ice. When he moves up the ladder, time and space are a lot tougher to come by, but there’s every reason to think he will be able to deal with that.
At 6-foot and 174 pounds, he has some time to add more strength. Avon will need that to be able to play in the corners and around the net. Rounding out his game shouldn’t be a problem. This was a smart signing that probably hasn’t gotten enough attention. Let’s see if he gets selected to Canada’s World Junior camp next month. That’s a 50-50 proposition at this point in time.
Russ Cohen is a prospects expert, and you can hear him on @SiriusXMNHL radio.