Weal Waiting For Next NHL Chance

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Weal dominating the AHL while he waits for next NHL chance

Written by: Tim Riday - Twitter

Jordan Weal isn't bitter.

A real case can be made that he should have earned a roster spot with the Philadelphia Flyers out of training camp. Instead, it was back to the minors.

Weal cleared waivers and was loaned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Oct. 12. He appeared in 26 of the team's 28 games before this year's nine-day holiday break.

If it weren't for an injury that cost him two games in mid-November, Weal could've been a possible call-up candidate when the Flyers needed a forward to replace the injured Sean Couturier. Weal was still recovering at the time, however, and remained in Allentown. Scott Laughton wound up being the guy recalled.

That didn't bother him, either.

Weal is in a good place right now. He's accepted his position in the Flyers' organization and has adopted a mantra for himself.

Just grind it out.

“I mean, it’s a grind league," he said earlier this month. "They don’t call it the ‘Iron League’ for nothing. The travel we’ve had lately is tough on the body. You just have to grind away every game and try to find ways to help the team, that’s what I've found over the years."

Weal knows the AHL well. He’s accrued an impressive resume over the years. Take a look for yourself: 
Finished fifth among all AHL skaters in points (70) during the 2013-14 season. 
Finished third among all AHL skaters in points (69) during the 2014-15 season. 
Won a Calder Cup with the Manchester Monarchs (2015). 
Was named the recipient of the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy (playoff MVP) after recording 10 goals and 12 assists in 19 games. 
Has amassed 68 goals and 134 assists in 247 career AHL games as of Dec. 17, 2016.
Oh, then there's this season.

Weal is right back at the top of the leaderboards. He's currently riding a modest four-game point streak in which he's picked up one goal and four assists.
Dating back to Nov. 25, Weal has racked up six markers and eight assists in 12 games.

So it's not very surprising to see him tied for second in the AHL in points with 29 (10 goals, 19 assists) in just 26 tilts at the break. Only Matt Lorito (30 points in 27 games), Taylor Beck (30 points in 19 games) and Kenny Agostino (30 points in 28 games) are ahead of him.

"If it’s a confidence thing, I think it’s been there since Game three," Weal said. "I think I’ve been back showing what I can do. It’s just a matter of keeping it going and coming in every game trying to get those two points.”

If you were wondering, the answer is yes. Weal does look out of place at the AHL level. There isn't much left for him to prove down here.

The 24-year-old, who was acquired as part of the Vinny Lecavalier/Luke Schenn trade to Los Angeles, stands out even on nights when he's held off the score sheet. He's been playing on the top or second line while also logging big minutes with the first power-play unit.

He plays with a lot of intensity and his work ethic has rubbed off on the young players.

“Yeah, it’s all about the little things," Weal said. "If you’re in the right spot in the D-zone, really focusing on playing good defensively and getting out of the zone quick, then the offense comes and you’re spending a lot more time in offensive zone. When you’re focused on those little things to create chances, I think the more chances you can create, the more offense you can produce for the team.”

If Weal can continue to move forward with that kind of positivity, he'll be creating chances at the next level. All he needs his a real chance to show what he can do in the NHL. Not in a limited capacity, either. We’re talking serious ice time. He hasn't gotten it yet, but it's always just one call up and one good situation away.

If not, Weal has made a pretty good living for himself as an AHL star. And he seems OK with that.

Edited by: Tony Androckitis


PerttuJunnonaho said...

If AHL is grind league, then we must promote Tyler Coulbourne back to the Phantoms as quickly as possible, cause there is not a better grinder in our system right now! Second thing we need to do is try hard to trade Scott Laughton or someone else who we don"t need as bad, but still has the value to bring back a good player! And cause we have logjam now in our right wing and many more right wingers coming in our pipeline, we need badly great player in our left wing position and Minnesota"s Jordan Greenway would be perfect upgrade to our team!

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