Image: The Guardian

2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Jordan Spence

Not to be confused with the English footballer, Jordan Spence is a defenceman who has seen his stock rise in the latter parts of this season and appears to be among the more underrated defencemen in this draft class.

He didn’t have a fantastic showing at the World Under-18’s to close out the season, but that was in large part to him recovering from an injury suffered in the QMJHL playoffs. His regular season, however, was dynamite.

Spence has done enough, in our opinion, to warrant a mid-to-late second round selection, so it will be very interesting to see where he gets selected in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

Let’s take a closer look at Jordan Spence.

Bio

  • Age/Birthdate: 18 / February 24, 2001
  • Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
  • Frame: 5-foot-10 / 165 lbs
  • Position: Defence
  • Handedness: Right
  • Draft Year Team: Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
  • Accolades:

2018-19 Stat Rundown

GP G A P INV% 5v5 Pr INV% 5v5 ePr60 SEAL Sh/GP Sh% 5v5 eTOI GF% GF%rel GD60 rel XLS% Top XLS% XPR
68 6 43 49 18% 9% 0.75 0.66 2.12 4% 17.7 58.5% 5.5% 0.64 19% 4% 21.7

Scouting Report

There is little to quibble about in terms of his skating and offensive abilities. Spence is a fantastically agile and adept skater that can move around the ice with ease. He has very good lateral movement and pivoting, allowing him to constantly be in motion and always ready to change directions. He also has good acceleration and top speed. His balance can be a little poor when engaged in battles, but that should rectify itself as he adds more muscle mass.

Offence is the primary component of Jordan Spence’s game. He uses his fantastic skating abilities and vision to create offence in a multitude of ways. He has a good first pass but isn’t afraid to transition on his own. Everything that you would hope for a smaller offensive defenceman manifests itself in Spence’s offensive skill set.

He does need to improve the velocity on his slapshot, but, like his balance, this is likely related to his weight and strength. Ideally, he’ll be able to add that strength without taking away from the attributes that make him so successful.

On the defensive side of the game, Spence relies on his skating abilities, anticipation and quick stick to eliminate opponents chances before they even happen. When he does obtain the puck, he creates transition in the ways mentioned above.

He can struggle against opponents that play a power game and attack him in a direct line. This forces Spence to try and be physical and more often than not, he will come out on the wrong side of such confrontations. That also appears in netfront battles; he can lose his position on an opponent and then struggle to regain position and tie the opponent up. However, when Spence focuses on taking away an opponents stick, he can be very successful, overcoming those previously mentioned issues.

Spence is very good at drawing forecheckers to him, rolling off them, and then taking the puck out of the zone.

Spence does so many other things right that you can let some of the obvious size and strength issues go to an extent. He is very smart at reading the play and then playing to his strengths while trying to avoid situations where his size might be an issue.

His major weaknesses could very well be rectified by natural development in his frame and some consistent coaching at the next level.

Analysis

It’s been an interesting path for Spence to get to this part. Born in Sydney, Australia, the Japanese-Canadian played his minor hockey in Cornwall, PEI. Prior to this season, there was no hype about Spence. At all. A large part of that is because Spence was playing in the MJAHL during his draft-minus one season before being taken by the Wildcats in the 2nd round of the 2018 QMJHL draft.

But month after month, his name began to come up more often as an intriguing player for this draft class. That is a clear indication of how well he played in the QMJHL and how talented he is.

By the end of the year, he led all first-time draft eligible QMJHL defenceman in primary assists, secondary assists, primary points, and total points all while sporting a 4.2% shooting percentage. He was also ranked 3rd in shots per game among that group with 2.12 per game.

He did benefit from being a huge part of the Wildcats defence, which as a result meant that he was on the ice for a lot of goals against, but a lot more goals for.

Despite that large role, he produced well with the ice-time given to him, leading all defencemen on the Wildcats in estimated points per hour.

Looking at his production with the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System, we get the following results:

(Read more about pGPS here.)

From his 64-match sample, Spence has a 17% expected likelihood of NHL success, with a cohort that includes Kris Letang, Francois Beauchemin and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, among many more less heralded blueliners.

From my observations, I never got the impression that Spence was too small, and his size never worried me about what his overall potential is. The issues I mentioned earlier do show up from time to time, but the sum of the parts more than makes up for those minor issues.

His U18 appearance wasn’t the greatest, but I do think that he wasn’t 100% dialed in . But that small sample size shouldn’t detract from the rest of his season.

Whichever teams selects him will want to get him working on adding strength and improving his shot as soon as possible because there is so much to like about everything else to his game. I love his aggressiveness when attacking the net; he isn’t afraid to get in there and grind it out to get second and third chances. He is such a smart player and his skating allows him to be so successful in everything he does.

Additional Charts

Rolling Season Data

Team Relative

Cohort Based

Adjusted Scoring

Sources

Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and theqmjhl.ca

Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out Jordan Spence page here (paywall). Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.