VOORHEES, N.J. – This time last year everything seemed to be trending in the right direction for the Flyers’ Jordan Weal.
He had finished the 2016-17 season on a rush, scoring eight goals in the last 19 games.
The Flyers showed their appreciation by inking him to a two-year, $3.5-million contract.
But then a funny thing happened. Weal struggled from the outset, couldn’t buy a goal and completed the campaign with just eight goals and 21 points in 69 games with a minus-10.
Although healthy, Weal looked a bit out of place playing primarily on the wing. That might have affected his confidence.
This year, with training camp opening on Friday, Weal might find himself back at center and that could only be a plus.
“Maybe the puck wasn’t going in like I wanted to last year,’’ Weal said after an informal skating session at the Skate Zone on Friday. “But I learned how to contribute to the team in a lot of different ways.’’
Although Weal is 26 and has played parts of three seasons (106 games), last year was his first full season. He says he learned a lot.
“Playing in the offensive zone a lot, especially the second half of the year, and even if the pucks weren’t going in, we were creating a lot of chances,’’ Weal pointed out.
“Going into this year, we just have to continue to build off of that. If you go out there and create as many opportunities as you can, it’s a numbers game and it’s going to start going in for you.’’
Did the new contract weigh on his mind at all?
“Yeah, it was definitely new,’’ he said. “I’m used to playing for $600,000. It’s good money and it’s a lot different.
“But you can’t use that (as an excuse). For some reason, it just wasn’t clicking in the first half. I would have a couple good games, then have a couple tough ones. This is my first full year in the league, I definitely learned a lot and got a lot more comfortable.’’
Finally, toward the end, Weal put together some fine efforts, including one in a big game at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
“As the year went on, at the end, I was playing some of my best hockey,’’ he said. “I’m excited to build off that coming into this year. There are some openings, especially in the middle.
“I think I can contribute a lot to this team. That’s my normal spot. I’ve played over 700 games in the last 10 years at center and 90 at wing.’’