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The 2018 NHL Draft was filled with undersized puck-moving defencemen. While that is not as big a theme in this year’s draft class, NHL scouts have already shown that the attitude towards this type of player is quickly changing. That change provides hope for Jordan Spence. Drafted 20th overall in the 2018 QMJHL Draft, he spent this past season with the Moncton Wildcats. Spence scored six goals and 49 points in 68 games. His 43 assists led all rookies in the QMJHL. It was enough to win him the QMJHL Rookie of the Year and QMJHL Defensive Rookie of the Year awards as well as a spot on the All-Rookie Team. Spence also added a goal and four points in four playoff games. Unfortunately, the Wildcats fell in four straight in the second round to the Halifax Mooseheads.
Following Moncton’s elimination, Spence joined Team Canada at the IIHF Under-18 World Hockey Championships. He picked up a goal and two assists for three points in seven games. Unfortunately, Team Canada failed to win a medal, losing the bronze medal game to the United States. Spence has an interesting background, born in Australia, he has a Canadian Mother and Japanese Father. He moved to Japan shortly thereafter, where he learned hockey from his father. He only came to Canada at age-13.
Jordan Spence Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born February 24th, 2001 — Cornwall, Prince Edward Island
Height 5’10” — Weight 164 lbs [178 cm / 74 kg]
In order for an undersized defenceman to succeed in the NHL, he will need to be an excellent skater. Spence certainly fits that bill. He has very good speed in both directions. His stride is close to looking like it came straight from the textbook and his acceleration is excellent. Spence also has very good edgework and agility. This gives him quick lateral movement. His pivots are crisp and clean. They allow him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. His low centre of gravity is an advantage and helps his balance. However, it does not make up for his lack of core strength at this time. Spence will need to add a lot of muscle in order to be stronger on his skates and better in battles along the boards and in front of the net.
Spence’s offensive game is based on his puck moving ability. He has the puck control to skate the puck out of danger and past forecheckers. Once he sees an open man, he passes the puck up the ice. Spence is more likely to look for a short, safe, breakout pass than to look for the long bomb. He recognizes the importance of puck control. Spence also has poise and controls the play well at the opposing blue line. He uses his agility to open up passing and shooting lanes. Spence sees the ice well and can make quick passes to teammates, setting them up for scoring chances.
Spence is not much of a shooter though. He needs some serious work on his slap shot as it lacks power. He looks to sneak down from the blue line and get off a wrist shot from the top of the circles. His release is quick which helps him to surprise goalies. However, he can also use more power before his wrist shot will be a threat at the pro level. Spence can pinch down even closer to the goal, looking for the backdoor pass on the power play.
Spence’s skating allows him to maintain good gap control and keep attackers to the outside. He has a quick stick that can poke check the puck away from an opponent. Spence reads the play well and plays smart positionally cutting down the passing and shooting lanes. He also moves the puck quickly up the ice starting a quick transition and limiting the opponent’s zone time. However, his lack of size can be an issue in the defensive end. He has issues containing bigger forwards in the cycle or winning battles against the boards. Spence can also struggle in clearing the front of the net.
Projection and Comparison
Spence’s skating and passing ability are plus tools and give him the opportunity to develop into a top-four defenceman. However, the lack of size and strength could hold him back. It affects a number of things, including his ability to control the play down low as well as the power in his shot. If Spence can add strength and continue his development, he could be a gamble worth taking though. His game is reminiscent of Victor Mete. This is a stylistic comparison and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Jordan Spence that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect in our NHL Draft series.
Main Photo via the Guardian.pe