2021-22 Team: Red Deer Rebels
Date of Birth: May 21, 2004
Place of Birth: Coldstream, British Columbia
Wt: 183 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 56 (amongst NA skaters)
- Recruit Scouting: 71
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 94
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 91
- Smaht Scouting Final Rankings: 78
Speed and skill are the name of the game in the modern NHL, and typically the defensemen drafted in the first couple of rounds are the ones who bring a dynamic element with elite skating or forward-like hands; the offensive types who light up the scoresheet. However, and especially after watching the 2022 Playoffs (any series including the Edmonton Oilers specifically), perhaps some savvy general manager is going to look and say, “gee, what if we got some defenders who could…you know, defend?” Well, it just so happens that today we’re going to talk about one of those players who could very well get selected by a team looking for a smart, defensively-sound blueliner who could actually help keep the puck out of the net.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Playing for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League (WHL), big, right-shot defenseman Jace Weir has seen his stock fluctuate a bit over the course of the 2021-22 season. He had more games than scouts would have preferred where he was less-than-dominant for the Rebels, and his straight-line speed isn’t great, something that will hopefully improve with added maturity and strength in his stride. Some of his transitions from forward to backward lack fluidity, as well. He does display quick footwork to stay in front of his checks as well as when walking the offensive blue line, but when he gets caught up ice he doesn’t have the closing speed to recover against faster junior forwards. After rising up to a potential second-round option on many boards early in the year, he has since slipped into the middle-round range.
Still, Weir is the type of defenseman who, in many cases, doesn’t stand out in a good way. He’s very smart and positionally sound in his own end, and tough for junior forwards to carve out space against in the dirty areas because of his size and physicality. His hockey sense really shows through in his own end, as he quickly processes the play and seals off-puck opponents to eliminate threats before they materialize. He also displays an active stick with his long reach and disrupts opposing power plays regularly, as he was one of the most relied-upon penalty killers for the fifth-best unit in the WHL. He’s extremely poised (in both ends, really) and doesn’t bite on many fakes, rather keeping his shoulders square to his mark and neutralizing on-rushing forwards with the body first, puck second, in textbook fashion.
Where Weir falls short is largely in the offensive end, as even after a solid start to the year, the offensive production didn’t develop the ways scouts would have preferred as his draft year progressed. Despite playing on Red Deer’s top defensive pairing, in addition to getting chances on their power play, he registered just five goals and 25 points in 64 games. Still, there are some promising areas to his game in that department which provide hope there is a higher gear in him to unlock. Firstly, his breakout and outlet passing from his own end are very clever, as that aforementioned hockey sense allows him to anticipate creases and lanes that may not be readily apparent to most. Generally speaking, his passing ability makes one think that with higher-end teammates he could produce a solid amount of assists someday.
However, Weir’s lack of top-end speed makes his transition play just so-so (despite the excellent first passes he regularly makes), and there are times when he could be more aggressive in hunting his shot. He displayed a pretty good wrist shot, scoring multiple goals on hard, accurate wristers that found the top corner of the net after picking a good time to jump into the play or make a hard cut behind the winger defending him in the offensive zone. The foundation is there for a decent offensive game, but, unfortunately, it really only shows up in spurts as of now.
Although he doesn’t project to be a star, and may never put up more than 20-25 points in the NHL, Weir is the type of defenseman who can play a key role as a versatile, defensive-leaning two-way player at the pro level. His poise under pressure and intelligence give him a pretty safe floor, with the chance for more if he goes to a team that will handle his development with patience and care. If the team that drafts him is able to succeed in helping craft those aforementioned areas of his offensive game, he could even turn out to be a steal in the third round – or potentially even later if he slides due to his lack of “ceiling” and flash.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Jace Weir- NHL Draft Projection
There is a possibility a team liked the early-season Weir who was producing offensively at a much higher clip than he did as the year progressed, feels as though they could get those traits out of him consistently, and calls his name late in the second round. Or, he could slip into the fourth or fifth rounds just as easily based on concerns about his skating and offensive upside. It really is wide open, so split the difference and expect to see him selected sometime in the third round.
“Jace Weir is often the poster child for smart, efficient, and quality detail of play. You’ll rarely find him rushed or panicked.” – Puck Preps Western Canada
“Rebels were on the penalty kill and Jace Weir’s positioning and awareness is just fantastic. Doesn’t get caught out of position, follows the play and engages for the puck when he needs to.” – Peter Baracchini, The Hockey Writers
“He’s a good, skilled defenceman. Big body guy. Last year was an odd year to come in. For a lot of our young guys, including Jace it’s helped him get his feet wet at this level” – Rebels assistant coach Ryan Coleville (from ‘Weir finding stride on Red Deer Rebels blueline’, Red Deer Advocate, 1/20/22)
“He’s a really strong outlet passer. His first pass out of the zone to start a breakout is always smart.” – Matt Somma, SMAHT Scouting
- Hockey sense
- Defensive positioning
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Offensive upside
- Transition play
Versatility is a key component to Weir, and every NHL team needs a good, shutdown defenseman that they can pair with the offensive-minded ones that are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s game. The fact that he’s not just a one-trick pony bodes well, too, as his stretch passing on the breakout could match nicely on a team with speedy forwards that can get open for him in the neutral zone. It seems that rugged, defensively-sound defensemen are often a bit undervalued in today’s game, but there will always be a place for those who can block shots, shut down high-end forwards, and kill penalties, all of which Weir does well.
While he may not be the sexiest pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and he’s a long way from a finished product, Weir is the type of player who could be a smart bet in a shallower draft like the 2022 Draft is. He’ll need to continue to add weight to his 6-foot-2 frame to ensure he can hold up and play his physical style, which is imperative to his appeal – especially considering there were games where he ended up getting knocked over a surprising amount in the WHL. He still sought out contact even after those instances, but he needs to add strength in order to simply be more solid in those engagements. If his skating stride and offensive game develop, he could be a second pairing NHL defenseman someday – which is a nice ceiling to bet on in this draft, especially for a player likely to be selected at any point after the second round.
Risk – 4/10, Reward – 6/10
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 4/10, Defense – 7/10
Jace Weir Statistics
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Brandon Stanley covers the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings here at THW. Born and raised in Raleigh, NC, in addition to writing about the Hurricanes for about five years now, he played hockey in NC for about 15 years. Many of those in the Carolina Junior Canes program, and hockey has always been his biggest passion. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Brandon also co-hosts and edits a podcast with two other writers (one of which, Alex Ohari, is also a writer here at THW) called Tracking the Storm. The pod covers everything Carolina Hurricanes, from prospects, to game recaps, and everything in between. Always available to chat anything hockey related, don’t hesitate to shoot him a tweet or DM anytime on Twitter @bwstanley26!