Roster construction time seems to be about the only time of year I dust off the old blogging skills these days, but I’m fascinated by the process of building a team in the NHL and few things make me want to put my opinions out there like getting behind good young players many other hockey fans haven’t taken notice of yet. Search Copper & Blue for my “Sign This Guy” or “Trade For This Guy” articles and you’ll see some of the names I’ve pointed out before, including Jonathan Marchessault around this time last year.
For the last month or so, I’ve had my eye on another player who I think about 30 NHL teams should have on their radar for this summer, but as a fan, my obvious first choice would be for Edmonton to target him...and that is Jordan Weal of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Who is Jordan Weal?
Some of you in Western Canada may know him already...for years he’s been “The other really good Jordan who played for the Regina Pats” after Jordan Eberle. Weal was a young player on the Pats when Eberle moved to the NHL, and in the three seasons after the more famous Jordan’s departure, Weal was a star. Each year tallying over 35 goals and 95 points, including an over-age season where he scored 41 goals and 116 points in 70 games. Why would a player with that offensive talent be left in the CHL for an overage season? You guessed it...Weal’s not big.
Even today at age 25 he’s only 5’10” and 180 lbs. Fair to say he was likely less at the time.
After being drafted in the 3rd round by the Kings in 2010, Weal eventually made his way to AHL Manchester, where after an adjustment period, in his 2nd and 3rd pro seasons he was averaging almost a point per game. He led the Monarchs to a Calder Cup in 2015 where he was named AHL playoff MVP.
Weal was included in the trade that sent Vincent LeCavalier to LA, and after a Cup of coffee (14 games) in the NHL in 2015/16 split between LA and Philadelphia, he split 2016/17 between the AHL Phantoms (43 GP, 15g-32a-47p) and NHL Flyers (23 GP, 8g-4a-12p). Due to his age and lack of NHL games played, he is a Group VI UFA on July 1st, just as Jonathan Marchessault was last season.
Why is he worth signing?
While Weal has only had limited exposure to the NHL, his AHL history is stellar. Additionally, if you weight his NHL production on a points/minute of 5v5 ice-time, he led the Flyers with 2.29 p/60 despite only receiving 12:24 of 5v5 ice-time per game. Second place was Sean Couturier at 1.79. I’ll issue the “small sample size” warning and point out he had an 18% shooting percentage that isn’t likely to continue, but it’s not only the production that makes Weal attractive. He also led the Flyers in...let’s just say a couple of possession metrics. Like...most of them.
Among players who played in more than 5 games, Weal led the Flyers in:
- CF/60 (64.09) & CF% (55.96%)
- FF/60 (47.7) & FF% (56.19%)
- SF/60 (36.15) and SF% (58.5%)
- GF/60 (2.94) and GF% (56.0%)
- SCF/60 (31.31), SCA/60 (19.75) & SCF% (61.32%)
- HDCF/60 (14.5) & HDCF% (64.49%)
- HDGF/60 (2.1), HDGA/60 (0.84) & HDGF% (71.43%)
It’s really nice to see some suppression metrics mixed in with all those offensive numbers...and lest we think Weal is merely an offensive-minded player, he was near the top in many of the other “against” metrics as well (hence the outstanding percentages).
Again...small sample size alert to be sure, but Weal’s performance over his 23 games with the Flyers this season wasn’t just good, it was outstanding. In some of these stats, he didn’t just lead the team, he led by a country mile. If there is a young player available to bring in for a depth role who has the potential to become much more than that...there isn’t really a better bet out there right now than Jordan Weal, in my opinion.
Oh, did I also mention he’s a right-handed shooting centre? So, there’s that too.
Why would Philly let him go?
I think they’re trying not to. There have been reports the team and player have been in negotiations and while term is not an issue, money has been thus far. With July 1st approaching, I’d be hoping Weal makes it to the free agency negotiation window, and if he does, he’d be my first call encouraging him to consider the opportunities in EDM with a team looking for young scoring depth. Who knows...if Draisaitl moves back to centre (which he needs to eventually), Weal could find himself auditioning on Connor McDavid’s wing.
Edmonton has elite offensive talent, but lacks the depth to really be considered an elite team. They were far too dependent on their stars last year, and bringing in young players with offensive potential should be a priority.
Jordan Weal is an excellent fit for the Oilers, and they should sign him.
...after all, they’ll likely need to re-fill their “former Regina Pat star named Jordan” quota.