The Los Angeles Kings selected forward Jordan Weal from the Regina Pats in round 3 (#70 overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. His selection drew groans from some areas of the peanut gallery, since at a mere 5’8″ (5’9″ according to some sources), he’s a relatively diminutive guy. Added to the fact that some people were concerned that his offensive output was inflated based on his play with Canadian future-star Jordan Eberle, the selection was more of a low-risk, high-reward kind of selection.
Now that we are halfway through the season after his selection, and he has been deprived of his talented line-mate, let’s take a look at his performance, shall we?
In his rookie season in the WHL, Weal managed more than a point per game, with 70 points (16 goals, 54 assists) in only 65 games. It was an impressive performance, and a solid debut into the WHL. He was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Year, and won a gold medal with Canada at the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Under-18 Tournament. It was a good year, and he was looking to improve on his performance the following season.
In 2009-2010, Weal was a 2nd year player in the WHL, and put together a performance good enough to get the Kings to select him in the 3rd round. In 72 games, he scored 102 points (35 goals and 67 assists), good enough for 3rd overall in WHL scoring. It was an impressive performance, but as we’ve mentioned before, his scoring prowess was questioned based on the fact that he was playing with an established top prospect.
So what happened this season? Surprisingly, not all that much. He’s slowed his scoring down a touch, which should be expected, but he’s still going at a relatively strong clip. In 39 games, he’s managed 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists). Not quite the same rate, but if he plays 72 games like last season, he’ll end up with 94 points. That’s a pretty impressive pace, considering the Regina Pats are downright awful this season. They’re 2nd to last in the WHL, and have given up more goals (129) than any other team in the league. Despite the leaky defense and terrible team play, Weal has managed a respectable -3 in the arguably worthless +/- statistic.
According to reports, Weal has been playing a strong all-around game, as well as contributing offensively. It’s a common concern with smaller players that they tend to play a more offensive game and leave their defensive and physical game lacking. Certainly such play is more difficult without a big body to back it up, but it’s far from impossible, and Weal appears to be doing just that. He’s a strong forechecker, and provide solid all-around play. The fact that his team is awful should allow him to step up and explore elements of leadership and different roles in the game that can only help him round out his overall play.
Realistically Jordan was never expected to be a #1 winger on an NHL team, and in all likelihood he still won’t reach those lofty heights. That said, he’s a solid youngster, who could very easily develop into a contributing factor for a winning team. Here’s hoping his development continues to be successful and we see him in Los Angeles as soon as he’s ready. Have any of you seen him in person?