Jordan Weal arrived in Philadelphia last January from the Los Angeles Kings with nowhere near the fuss created by the departure of the players he was traded for, Luke Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier.
There had been extensive speculation regarding what the Flyers would do about a bit of a logjam on defense and the overall situation of Lecavalier. Flyers fans only saw Weal in four games over the second half of the season, so he remained relatively unknown heading into the offseason.
But Weal certainly isn't an unknown to Flyers GM Ron Hextall. Hextall was part of the Los Angeles front office that drafted Weal in 2010, and Weal played for two of the Manchester Monarchs AHL teams that Hextall oversaw as an assistant GM for the Kings. After Hextall's return to Philadelphia, Weal played two more seasons for the Monarchs, leading them to the 2015 Calder Cup championship while earning playoff MVP honors with 10 goals and 12 assists in 20 games.
Weal was a restricted free agent during the offseason, but Hextall brought him back into the fold. That history probably had a lot to do with it, but what also played a big part was what Weal did outside of game action last year. Despite his frequency as a healthy scratch, Weal impressed the Flyers' coaching staff with his work ethic during practices and in the extra drills that players do the morning of games when they're not playing.
"I've liked his practices," said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol. "His work ethic, his level of pace is always outstanding, whether he's working on his own out there or working in the middle of practice or a game. I've really been happy with that."
Weal has also been a beneficiary of the absence of seven Flyers regulars to the World Cup of Hockey. With Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier both missing from camp, Weal spent the first two days centering Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, and will likely get some game action as part of that line either in Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage or in one of Monday's exhibition games.
"They're great players," Weal said of his linemates. "They can move the puck, they can shoot the puck and they make great plays coming out of the zone, which I think is the biggest thing as a centerman, when you get that puck coming with speed through the middle and get out of the zone as quick as you can, that makes everything easier so you can go play in the offensive zone where things are fun and you want to score goals and things like that. They're both complete players. They can hit, they can score, and they can pass, and it's a lot of fun playing with them."
Hakstol, meanwhile, has been pleased with the way Weal has worked in with the two wingers.
"He's a versatile player," Hakstol said. "He may play up the middle, he may play on the left wing or he may play on the right wing. His natural position most of his career has been up the middle. So we wanted to get him there with some consistency here in training camp. His level of execution has been good. He's been playing with a couple of good players and I think he's fit in well."
Weal's aware that the others still to come to camp will likely push him elsewhere in the lineup or on the organization's depth chart. But in the meantime, he intends to take full advantage of the opportunity to put his skills on display.
"It's been a while since I've played some full hockey games in a row, so I'm working to get that feel back," he said. "It's nice to have that fresh start where everybody's at the same part of training camp. I've just got to keep working and play the best I can."
MORE SIGHTS & SOUNDS AT TRAINING CAMP:
Day 2: Camp heats up with battle drills | Day 1: Camp opens with quick pace