MONTREAL - Sometimes, it's a matter of the puzzle pieces fitting just right.
That's certainly how Jordan Weal felt upon arriving in Montreal at the trade deadline.
"It was obviously a pretty crazy year. When I got traded to the Canadiens, coming in right away the guys were such a great group of guys," recounted Weal, who was joining his third team this season after playing for the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes before being acquired by Montreal. "It just lets you fit in right away and do your thing."
Video: MTL@LAK: Weal scores in first game with Canadiens
The match was so perfect that Weal jumped at the chance to lock himself in, signing a two-year, one-way deal with the Canadiens through the end of the 2020-21 season on Friday.
Foregoing other opportunities was a no-brainer for the 27-year-old given all that he came to appreciate in his short time with the organization.
"It was everything. It was coaching, it was the guys, it was the city, the fans, the whole culture. Put it all together and it's tough to beat," described Weal, who scored 10 of his 21 points this season in a Habs uniform (4G, 6A). "Especially where this team's going, with the mix of young talent and a great veteran presence in the dressing room and on the ice. It's a group that can really take the next step next year and have a great season."
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Weal may not have gotten to suit up immediately after joining the Canadiens, but once he did, it was clear he was a valuable addition to the club. Head coach Claude Julien deployed the veteran of four NHL seasons out for 27:16 of power play time in the 16 games he played for Montreal, and trusted Weal in all kinds of faceoff situations in all three zones.
"On this team, it doesn't matter where you're playing; you're going to be playing with great players. It's so nice to be able to fit in and mix in with different guys," outlined Weal, who won 55.1% of his draws as a Canadien and finished with a career-high 55.6% win rate on the season. "And there is just so much talent, skill, and work ethic all over the place. With our system, it definitely caters to guys that are quick to move around. We have a lot of that on our team."
Video: TOR@MTL: Weal punches home Armia's pass for PPG
Hailing from North Vancouver, BC, Weal hopes to make plans with a number of the Habs' British Columbia contingent in the offseason, but given where he lives in relation to them, he'll likely be working out on his own and will meet up with the guys just to catch up and have fun.
"I have my own thing here on the North Shore and a little bit in Burnaby too. But there are guys up in Kelowna, Gally [Brendan Gallagher] is out in Tsawwassen. It's pretty far; it's actually like an hour and a half," shared Weal, the Los Angeles Kings' third-round pick (70th overall) in 2010. "I'm sure I'm going to see most of those guys in the summer here. If it's not training, then maybe it's just hanging out and enjoying each other's company."
Weal plans on taking a step back from hockey to reset and recharge. When he does resume working out, however, he won't be making any big changes to his offseason regimen.
"When you get to past five years pro, you know what your body needs to be ready for the season and get off on the right foot," explained Weal, who owns 54 points (24G, 30A) in 169 games with the Kings, Flyers, Coyotes, and Canadiens. "It's just a matter of sticking to what's working fine and adding a couple of new things here and there that can help improve your strength or your speed and quickness. It's just finding that balance that's going to put you in the best situation to perform."
Video: NYI@MTL: Weal scores on redirection to pad lead
Now that Weal knows he'll be sticking around for a little while, it'll be time to move out of the hotel and into something a little bit more permanent. But with his new contract signed so early in the offseason, the 5-foot-10, 179-pound centerman knows he can take his time figuring out where in the city he'll settle in.
"The hotel was a great spot. There were a couple of the guys too, so it was great to have guys close like that and be able to hang out. But I'm sure there are a lot of options with regards to living for when the time comes," he concluded. "At least I have a lot of time this summer to make that happen and make sure I'm in a comfortable spot for myself for the year to come."