Jasper Weatherby’s stock is certainly trending up.
It was some surprise three weeks ago when the San Jose Sharks signed Weatherby, because the University of North Dakota standout had previously announced that he was returning to school for his senior season.
Not surprising — Weatherby isn’t skipping school for nothing. Three weeks ago, on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, I projected him as a legitimate competitor for the San Jose Sharks’ fourth-line center role, alongside Dylan Gambrell and Lane Pederson.
We discussed Weatherby around the 20-minute mark:
San Jose Sharks director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr. had also praised Weatherby’s physio before last month’s development camp: “Jasper Weatherby is up to six-foot-four, 222 pounds. Under 10% body fat, which is not the same as a scout’s body, I’ll tell you that. So he’s looking pretty good.”
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) August 19, 2021
Weatherby’s next hurdle is dominating the 2021 Rookie Faceoff Tournament, which begins this weekend. He’ll be one of the older players there, and according to Kevin Kurz of The Athletic, the 23-year-old will center top prospects William Eklund and Ozzy Wiesblatt. He’s also “viewed as arguably the most NHL-ready player on [the] Sharks’ rookie [tournament] roster.”
So what does that mean — what’s Weatherby’s upside? The 6-foot-4 pivot did finish his college career with a flourish, potting 11 goals in his last 12 games.
“He took a big step last year. Got stronger and was moving better. He’s detailed without puck and hard to play against. Has some skill too,” an NHL scout told San Jose Hockey Now. “4C is the realistic ceiling.”
Here’s one area where Weatherby might have a leg up on presumptive 4C Gambrell: Last year, Weatherby won 57.4 % of his faceoffs at UND — meanwhile, in the NHL, Gambrell won just 43.8 % of his faceoffs.
For what it’s worth, Gambrell, in his last NCAA campaign at Denver, won 48.3 % of his draws.
Of course, playing center at the NHL level isn’t just about winning faceoffs. But the San Jose Sharks would be thrilled to add another 50-plus % faceoff winner to the mix. Last year, they had just one, Tomas Hertl. This year, perhaps Weatherby can join Hertl and Nick Bonino.
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