Undrafted J.R. Avon Shining Above His Own Draft Class, Set to Play in Memorial Cup Next Week
Jon-Randall Avon – or more commonly known as J.R. Avon – was an undrafted prospect the Philadelphia Flyers invited to their Development Camp before signing him to a 3-year, entry-level-contract in September of 2021.
The Peterborough, Ontario native just recently played a large role in helping the Peterborough Petes claim the OHL title for the first time in 17 years. The Petes are now set to face off in the Memorial Cup that is to begin on the 26th of May and encompasses the champions of the 3 Canadian major junior leagues as well as the host team.
In 2021, the Philadelphia Flyers made a splash at the draft when they acquired Rasmus Ristolainen for a package that surrounded their 1st round pick. They ended up drafting Samu Tuomaala in the second round, Alexei Kolosov in the third, Brian Zanetti in the fourth, Ty Murchison in the fifth, Ethan Samson in the sixth, and Owen McLaughlin in the seventh to close things out.
With the OHL cancelling their season in 2020-21 due to the increased amount of COVID cases in Ontario, Avon seemingly slipped through the cracks as he went undrafted. It was a tough draft to gauge since scouts had to go off of previous seasons, but Avon made great strides during the Flyers’ Development Camp and impressed so much that he got a contract.
Zanetti was a member of the Petes as well, so it’s not like the Flyers had no idea who Avon was during the draft either.
In his first season with the Petes in 2019-20, Avon mustered up 4 goals and 11 points in 56 games. In 2021-22, he scored 29 goals and 68 points in 64 games to lead the team, and then just came off another 29-goal campaign with 60 points in just 59 games. He scored 9 goals and 15 points in 23 playoff games to help the Petes win the OHL title and scored 2 goals in the penultimate game of the final series.
JON-RANDALL LOVES GOALS pic.twitter.com/QIfjvUvUa2
— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) May 18, 2023
Being a native of Peterborough, it was always a dream for Avon to not only win the league title, but to advance to the Memorial Cup and duke it out with some of Canada’s best major junior teams – something he never got to witness since he was only 3 years old when they last won.
Peterborough will be joined by the hosts in the Kamloops Blazers, the QMJHL champions in the Quebec Remparts, and the WHL champions in the Seattle Thunderbirds. Each team plays 3 games – one against each other team – with the top-seeded club advancing straight to the championship game, while the number-2 and number-3 seeds face off to advance to the final game.
In contrast to his fellow Flyers who were drafted in 2021, Tuomaala scored 27 goals and 48 points in 31 games for both Peliitat Heinola and Kettera Imatra of Mestis – Finland’s second highest ranked league – after a very disappointing showing in 2021-22 in the SM-liiga with 3 different teams where he combined for 1 goal and 3 points in 34 games. He started the 2021-22 season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms but was quickly sent back to Finland to hone his craft.
Kolosov is quickly jumping up the ranks in the Flyers’ goaltending pipeline with another strong showing in the KHL with Dynamo Minsk, Zanetti’s point totals dropped from 26 in 56 games from 2021-22 to 12 in 47 games in 2022-23, Murchison scored 2 goals and 5 points in 36 games for Arizona State University in the NCAA, Samson shone with 60 points in 60 games for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL as a defenseman, and McLaughlin scored 15 points in 37 games for the University of North Dakota.
Avon played a pivotal role for the Petes this season and will soon be eligible to join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms next season when he will be 20 years of age.
He stands at 6’0” and 180 pounds, plays the centre position, and has a real knack for scoring goals and taking a lot of shots – which is something the Flyers desperately need from their young prospects.
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