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Nate Thompson’s and Jordan Weal’s season timeline and grade poll

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After the fourth line proved to be a disaster in the first four months, two acquisitions turned things around.

NHL: New York Islanders at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

This week, our Montreal Canadiens season reviews began with looks at the short stints of Nate Thompson and Jordan Weal after their late-season acquisitions. They were both part of an attempt to bolster a bottom trio that had been struggling all season long.

June 17, 2018: Projecting the Montreal Canadiens’ fourth line for next season

Before last year’s draft, we explored some different combinations to make up the bottom trio for the 2018-19 season. Players such as Daniel Carr, Jacob de la Rose, Byron Froese, Nikita Scherbak, and Logan Shaw were all in the mix. The article is worth revisiting just to get a reminder of how much turnover there can be, especially at the bottom of a lineup, from one year to the next.

Free agency added Kenny Agostino, Michael Chaput, and Matthew Peca, who took the places of many of the players listed above. They joined Nicolas Deslauriers and Charles Hudon as the options for the fourth line when the season began.

February 10, 2019: The Canadiens’ fourth-line problems are affecting them at two levels

Despite trying nearly every permutation of those five players, as the deadline approached it was clear they weren’t only failing to establish themselves as regulars, but hurting the Canadiens by being unable to just end nights on even terms with the opposition.

Nate Thompson

February 11, 2019: Montreal Canadiens acquire Nate Thompson from Los Angeles

With the All-Star Break not helping the depth options reset for the playoff push, Marc Bergevin made a move well ahead of the trade deadline. The cost of moving down a single round (trading the Calgary Flames’ fouth-round pick for the fifth-round selection of the Arizona Coyotes), Thompson was on his way to Montreal.

April 22, 2019: Nate Thompson brought stability to a makeshift fourth line

There wasn’t much to be excited about when he was acquired. In fact, he didn’t look much better than the options he was supposed to replace. But it quickly became apparent that he had a solid defensive game, and that alone helped him stand out from the pack. A small amount of offensive contribution was icing on the cake for the player who became the regular fourth-line centre.

April 24, 2019: Thompson faces a young challenger in his bid to re-sign with the Canadiens

He played well enough to earn another NHL contract, but the Canadiens are no longer a team with such shallow centre depth than they need to lock up any pivot who looks capable of taking a spot. The Habs have a strong all-around player in Phillip Danault at the top, a surprising Max Domi who put up an excellent season offensively in his first year at the position, and a young Jesperi Kotkaniemi who looks poised to become the best of the three. The end of the season also brought Ryan Poehling into the mix, and the Canadiens’ 2017 first-round pick will be given his chance to take the fourth-line spot next season.

April 25, 2019: Canadiens re-sign Nate Thompson to one-year contract

Despite the competition, the Canadiens weren’t interested in parting with a serviceable NHLer, inking Thompson to a one-year deal before he got anywhere close to becoming a free agent. He’s a good player to keep around as the 2019-20 roster is completed, but he may end up being the 13th forward.

Poll

Grade Nate Thompson’s performance with the Canadiens

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A+
    (17 votes)
  • 10%
    A
    (101 votes)
  • 9%
    A-
    (95 votes)
  • 30%
    B+
    (290 votes)
  • 27%
    B
    (267 votes)
  • 8%
    B-
    (82 votes)
  • 7%
    C+
    (69 votes)
  • 2%
    C
    (25 votes)
  • 0%
    C-
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (2 votes)
959 votes total Vote Now

Jordan Weal

February 25, 2019: Canadiens acquire Jordan Weal from Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Michael Chaput

Thompson wasn’t the only player added in hopes of finding a more effective bottom line. Jordan Weal was traded for the second time in the season, moving from Philadelphia to Arizona and finally to Montreal in exchange for Chaput.

February 25, 2019: Instant Analysis: Jordan Weal presents a skilled upgrade for the fourth line

Unlike Thompson, Weal was a more skilled option, offering a different look for a fourth-line centre. His top talent was identified to be his penchant for crossing blue lines in control of the puck, and that was an encouraging trait given how often the previous players were trapped in their own zone in the opening months.

March 7, 2019: Frozen Frames: An encouraging debut performance from Jordan Weal

Claude Julien was satisfied with what he saw from Thompson, so it took some time before Weal entered the lineup. On the first game of the California road trip, the coach decided it was a good time to rest Kotkaniemi, and Weal took his place in the middle of the third line, centring Jonathan Drouin and Joel Armia. It didn’t take him long to make an immediate impact.

March 31, 2019: Jordan Weal deserves the opportunities he has been given

The coach was happy with this new addition as well, and didn’t relegate him back to the press box for the remainder of the season. Even after Kotkaniemi’s return to the formation, Weal stayed in mostly in a top-nine role as either a centre or winger, and put in the effort to ensure he stayed there.

April 26, 2019: Jordan Weal is the latest diamond in the rough acquired by Marc Bergevin

Helping the power play actually score a few goals may have been his greatest achievement, but he was good for the Canadiens in all situations. Strong possession and scoring-chance numbers came largely from his aforementioned zone exits and entries, while solid positioning kept the puck moving in the right direction while he was on the ice.

April 26, 2019: Montreal Canadiens re-sign Jordan Weal to a two-year deal

Weal was a great discovery for Marc Bergevin, and the system the Canadiens played in 2018-19 seemed to fit his game perfectly. The three other teams he played for in his career appear to have left a lot of his talent untapped. He was a great bargain as a deadline acquisition, and now he has another two-year deal to build on what he achieved in his 16 games.

Poll

Grade Jordan Weal’s performance with the Canadiens

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A+
    (61 votes)
  • 24%
    A
    (226 votes)
  • 27%
    A-
    (253 votes)
  • 29%
    B+
    (271 votes)
  • 8%
    B
    (84 votes)
  • 2%
    B-
    (24 votes)
  • 0%
    C+
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    C-
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (0 votes)
934 votes total Vote Now