The Montreal Canadiens announced the signing of four-year NHL veteran forward Jordan Weal.
The contract is valued at $1,400,000 and puts the Canadiens at 35 contracts against the 50 contract limit for 2019-20. Weal’s previous contract was for $1,750,000, so this new contract offers a slight decrease but gives the 27-year-old additional security.
Weal was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes by Marc Bergevin at the 2018 Trade Deadline for Michael Chaput. In contrast to Chaput, who struggled to find his place on the Canadiens roster and was eventually sent back to Laval in the American Hockey League after clearing waivers, Weal immediately made an impact upon his arrival, scoring four goals and 10 points (four primary points at even-strength and two on the power play) in 16 games. The forward quickly earned the trust of Claude Julien and saw his usage increase.
The eye-test of his tenacious play and fit on the club is corroborated by various tracking metrics: 59.8 CF% (more offensive events than defensive while he’s on the ice), 65.93 SF% (more shots on goal for than shots on goal against), 60.95 SCF% (more scoring chances for than scoring chances against).
Weal was a very effective fourth line player who was able to pinch in on the third line as well. Many fans had him highest on the list of unrestricted free agents to bring back, so their desire has come to pass for next season.
With Weal and Nate Thompson now signed, the fourth line is beginning to take shape. The final spot on that trio will likely be decided between a collection of veterans such as Nicolas Deslauriers, Matthew Peca, and Dale Weise, who in turn will be pushed by up-and-coming prospects like Ryan Poehling, Jake Evans, and Lukas Vejdemo.