Jordan Weal is a soon-to-be 27-year-old forward who mostly played supporting roles on the three teams he suited up for before joining the Montreal Canadiens. He isn’t an impact player who could change the outcome of the game single-handedly for the Habs, and not the trade acquisition some hoped Marc Bergevin would pull off at the deadline.
Yet without being those things, he looks to be a very interesting player based on his first game versus the Los Angeles Kings, complementing Joel Armia and Jonathan Drouin well with his skill set.
Weal is not the fastest skater, but he is strong on his edges. What he lacks in speed he seems to make up for with overall solid positioning. For someone who was playing his first game as a Hab, the centreman almost flawlessly played within Claude Julien’s system, pressuring the opposition on the forecheck, and showing a good defensive mind.
He was patient, trusted his new teammates, and provided support at the right times, which enabled him to break up plays, orchestrate the rush, and, as a result, spend the majority of his shifts on the attack.
In the offensive zone, the ex-Coyotes player showed he possesses a good pair of hands — especially in a stint on the power play — but his main contributions were his positioning and work ethic. He was consistently using his stick and sturdy frame to neutralize defenders and extend his team’s possession in the opposing end. He scored a goal (thanks to a great pass from Dion Phaneuf) and had a couple of other great chances, barely missing two open nets after beating defenders to the blue paint.
While not a game-changer, it seems that Weal has the potential to be a good piece to add beside or between skilled forwards, providing them with a right-shooting, smart, two-way element that seems to be able to create space for others; not unlike Armia does most nights.
If he doesn’t play up in the lineup, Weal could also replace one of the fourth-liners that have not been able to spark much offensively, and could finally provide a solution to Claude Julien’s search.
It was only one contest, but a great performance nonetheless, with many encouraging signs for Weal. When he settles into Montreal’s system, let’s hope we can see him blossom in his role and realize more of the potential he showed in the minor leagues and some stretches in the NHL.
This video breaks down some of the shifts of Jordan Weal, and the many little things he did right over the course of the game.