From Doubts To Dominating: LA Kings F Prospect Jordan Weal Has Risen To The Top Of The AHL

PROSPECT WATCH: Frozen Royalty takes a close look at Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Jordan Weal, who could join the Kings in the coming season. In this story, Weal looked back on his 2014-15 season, including winning the 2015 Calder Cup Championship. Part 1 of a two-part story.

LOS ANGELES — When forward Jordan Weal was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round (70th overall) of the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the first reaction many observers had regarding the native of North Vancouver, British Columbia was a high degree to skepticism because of his scant, 5-10, 162-pound frame—they were convinced that he would be tossed around like the proverbial rag doll at the professional level.

Since then, Weal spent two more seasons with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (he played an over-age year with Regina in 2011-12) before moving up to the American Hockey League with the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ AHL affiliate (which will become the AHL’s Ontario Reign in the 2015-16 season).

Weal went on to play three full seasons with the Monarchs, and like most young prospects coming out of major junior hockey in Canada, he had a lot to learn, and did not get much ice time early in his first season in the AHL.

But Weal was already known to be a student of the game, something the Kings quickly took note of. The many hours he spent studying video would help him greatly down the road, as he worked hard to improve so he could crack the Monarchs lineup for good.

“In my first year, I wasn’t playing that much in the first half of the year, so I was trying find ways to get in the lineup,” said Weal. “I watched a lot of video with [then assistant coach Freddy Meyer]. He was giving me some good [advice], and we were finding stuff in the videos that helped me get in the lineup more, and have success.”

“[Video] helped me a lot coming into the league,” added Weal. “You can use video in a lot of different ways. You can use it when you think you had a good game, but when you watch it, you realize it wasn’t really that good, or when you think you had a tough game, you look back on video, you see that maybe you did some pretty good things [in that game].”

Weal improved steadily until near the midpoint of the 2013-14 season, when his game really took off. He finished that season strong, and was even more effective this past season, oftentimes, dominating.

“From the middle of last year, I’ve felt like I was playing at the top of my game in this league,” said Weal, now 23 years old. “I think this year, I’ve been able to work on specific things in my game, because I know I can do what I want to do, playing in the AHL, and this year, I was able to fine tune some things—really work on things that, hopefully, will prepare me for the next level.”

Before that, Weal had some unfinished business to take care of: helping lead his team to the 2015 Calder Cup Championship in a 4-1 series win over the Utica Comets.

“It was a lot of fun,” he beamed. “We had a great group of guys. To finish a season off like that was pretty cool, playing that late into June, and top it off with a [championship] was pretty awesome.”

“We were playing really good hockey,” he added. “When we had a couple of stinkers here and there, we were able to rebound. We had our best games after our losses in the playoffs, and that was huge because it was usually Game 3 that we were losing. But instead of losing Game 4, making it a 2-2 series, we would turn around and have our best game of the series, to make it 3-1, making it a lot harder on the other team. When you can do that, it really sets you up, and we were able to capitalize in every series we played.”

“We had a lot of energy. We were a group with a lot of depth. That definitely showed in the playoffs.”

To top it all off, Weal was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the AHL’s Most Valuable Player in the playoffs.

“That was pretty special,” he said. “There were a lot of guys who deserved it. So many guys played well, from the fourth line, to the third defensive pairing. Even [Kings goaltender prospect Patrik Bartosak] got in there, and played great.”

“We had to use everybody, and everyone [played] their roles to a tee,” he added. “It could’ve gone to a lot of guys.”

Weal has gone from a player carrying a boatload of skepticism on his shoulders because of his size (or lack thereof) to one who led his team to a championship, something that was not lost on the Kings.

“He’s proved a lot of people wrong, and I would imagine that’s kind of a tag he’s had—his size—since he was in junior,” said Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake, who served as general manager of the Monarchs, and will continue in that role with the AHL Reign. “[But] he ended up leading the Western Hockey League [in scoring], he’s ended up being a top scorer in the American Hockey League, and he was the MVP of the [2015] playoffs.”

Weal took a bit of a break after the Monarchs won the 2015 Calder Cup Championship, but he is already well into his off-season training routine.

“I’m back in the gym pretty regularly right now, and I’m skating a little bit, as well,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a short summer, but I think when camp comes along, it’ll feel like I was just at the rink. But it was great to have the long season that we did. I’m excited to get it going. Once you win like that you want to get back to it and win again. It’s pretty awesome.”

As reported earlier, when Weal was drafted in 2010, he was listed at 162 pounds. Since then, he has added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame, which will help him down the road.

“When you get a little older, you definitely get that strength and a little extra weight behind you,” he noted. “That definitely helps. You’d be lying if you said it didn’t help to be stronger, and a little bigger.”

Weal also made one request regarding his weight.

“I’ve been about 180 for the last three years, but all my hockey cards and stuff still say that I’m 170,” he said. “I’m 182, so if you could spread the word to some people—they’ve still got me [at 170].”

Got that, folks? He weighs 182 pounds now, a far cry from 162, and even 170 pounds.

With the 2015 AHL Playoffs and a championship behind him, Weal must now focus on what could very well be his rookie season in the NHL. But is he ready? Will what he was accomplished at the AHL translate to the NHL? What do the Kings think? All that will be covered in the next story here on Frozen Royalty.

LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Jordan Weal Photo: Blake Gumprecht, courtesy Manchester Monarchs.

Frozen Royalty’s Jordan Weal Coverage

Frozen Royalty’s 2015 Off-Season LA Kings Prospects Coverage

Creative Commons License Frozen Royalty by Gann Matsuda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Frozen Royalty – Licensing and Copyright Information.

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