Snubbed in NHL Entry Draft, Weir invited to Vegas Golden Knights prospects camp
Every year there are surprises in the NHL Entry Draft.
Without fail, there are players who jump the cue and are selected well ahead of where they are ranked, if at all, by Central Scouting. At the same time, a few players who are ranked by CS are overlooked.
Jace Weir fits into the latter category. The Rebels defenceman was ignored in this year’s draft, held on Thursday and Friday, despite being ranked 56th among North American skaters.
Rebels owner/president/general manager Brent Sutter was surprised by Weir’s absence on the draft board.
“It was surprising for all of us, especially when you look at how many 17-year-old defencemen played against the other team’s top players every night,” said Sutter.
“But like I’ve always said, you don’t know what NHL teams are thinking. It wasn’t just one team that bypassed him, 32 did. I’m sure it was disappointing for him but at the end of the day it is what it is. You don’t control the NHL draft.”
The Rebels boss said Weir can add more grit and physicality to his already impressive repertoire.
“There are things Weirsy has to work on regarding his game . . . just being a harder player to play against, stuff like that,” he said. “The other qualities are all there. He has the skills, the skating, to be a pretty good player.
“He’s taken strides but he has to be able to throw a switch when he steps on the ice. He’s such an awesome young man but when you want to reach the next level you have to play with a high level of competitiveness every single night.
“He’s still a young player. There’s still lots of room to grow and figure it out.”
Although Weir was passed over in the draft, he will attend the Vegas Golden Knights prospects camp this week.
“Good for him. I’m happy for him,” said Sutter.
Weir, who turned 18 in May, need not look any further than Rebels centre Ben King (pictured below) for motivation moving forward. King was ignored in back to back entry drafts before being selected in the fourth round of last week’s event by the Anaheim Ducks.
“For sure, getting passed over twice was disappointing,” said the 20-year-old sniper who potted a WHL-best 52 goals in 2021-22. “But it just gave me more motivation to keep working and reach that goal of getting drafted, making it to the NHL and playing pro hockey.
“I just kept my head down and kept working, and it’s super exciting to be drafted by such a great organization as the Anaheim Ducks.”
King, named Central Division Player of the Year for 2021-22 and Red Deer Advocate Red Deer Male Athlete of the Year for 2021, talked briefly with a Ducks management person on Saturday but contract talk wasn’t included in the discussion.
“We didn’t talk about next year,” said King, who flies to Anaheim Monday to attend the Ducks’ prospect camp starting the following day. “I don’t know if I’ll know anything (regarding a contract) until after development camp or later.”
According to his statements posted on the team’s website, Ducks assistant GM Martin Madden certainly seems intent on King joining the organization sooner than later.
”As the draft gets deeper, I rely on our scouts’ passion level for our guys,” Madden said. “Glen Cochrane loves this kid. He’s seen the progression from the time he was 17 to this season, how he stepped into a leadership role and how he produced and has led his team in different ways. Ben has unbelievable hockey sense, great vision, really good hands and finishing ability.
“Physically, he’s a really big body and he’s just starting to get into fitness to make the most of his talent. He was a 19-year-old (last season), yes, but the runway ahead of him is still very long. He’s not close to maxed out in that respect. I think our development staff will do a great job with him.”
Meanwhile, undrafted Rebels 20-year-old defenceman Christoffer Sedoff will attend the Calgary Flames prospects camp as a free agent this week.
“It’s great for these kids to go to these camps and see what they’re like,” said Sutter.