We have here a veteran of the Top 25 Under 25 in Jordan Weal, who's been steadily climbing up the charts since 2013 when he squeaked in at #25.
After a stellar 70 point regular season prior to this one, the 2014-2015 season was his time to improve upon that and shine. Shine he did! Admittedly, he was a point behind his previous regular season points record on the Monarchs, but he played 3 fewer games, so he gets a pass for that one. He scored 20 goals and 49 assists for 69 points, a near point per game player and enough for third in scoring in the AHL in the regular season. His offensive success helped lead the Monarchs to the Calder Cup Playoffs where they entered as best in the league during the regular season, and he continued his scoring streak, breaking some Manchester Monarchs records in the process.
Jordan Weal just became the Monarchs' All-Time Leader in playoff points with that assist!— Manchester Monarchs (@MonarchsHockey) June 7, 2015
But wait, there's more! He netted himself a hat trick during a game in the Eastern Conference semifinals and tied for the lead in playoff points (with Michael Mersch). All of this ultimately resulted in the Manchester Monarchs winning their first Calder Cup with Jordan Weal on top as the playoff MVP.
He's still not done! Weal has taken this momentum and success and continued to apply that through training camp and into the preseason. He's looked great this September, and both his quick feet and improved puck possession have been on display. He passes the eye test skating-wise and continues to produce, scoring the overtime game winning goal against the Arizona Coyotes.
Yes you are Jordan Weal, yes you are, but emphasis on the little here. He's an outlier in the Kings' preference for tall, big players, and his small stature has been a consistent concern that's followed him throughout his career. Fortunately, that hasn't discouraged him in the slightest as he continues to improve and excel season after season.
Kings director of amateur scouting Mark Yannetti notes how Weal's upside far outweigh his perceived downside:
"He's an elite thinker. The way he sorts the game, his creativity, the way he reads and recognizes space with and without the puck. His mind allowed him to deal with spatial things in a way that helps compensate for size."
Even more than that, he's not dissuaded and takes any criticisms and concerns and just puts his nose to the grindstone to fix that and improve his game. But is this all enough? Will it translate into success with the Kings? Yannetti seems to think so.
"You see him deal with that adversity and for me, that is the final piece, it could be the biggest piece. Dealing with adversity in the NHL is one of the key things that differentiate all that great players. The one who can make things happen when things aren't going well. The one who can make things go well when things aren't going well. You've seen Jordan; he is a case study in it for me. For me, for us, for our organization, for everything we hold, that is the culmination of development. That's the culmination of the curriculum or the culture that Dean and the staff have tried to promote. For me, that is the final step in the puzzle for him."
It's been a bit of an uphill climb battling everything, but his persistence in the face of adversity has to be something that appeals very much to the Kings organization. It's yet another preseason of Weal trying to prove himself in order to nab a spot on the roster, and there's a lot of competition for those open roster spots, but if Weal keeps working hard and playing like he's been playing, this could be his year to make it to the big time.