For years, what NHL clubs looked for in a defenseman was short. Big, physical and smart. However, times have changed and with that comes different responsibilities that go along with being an NHL defenseman.
To become a successful and impactful defensemen in today’s game, you must excel in the transition, keep a tight gap, have good puck retrieval skills and the ability to jump up into the rush. Jordan Spence in one capacity or another, displays all of these fundamental skills at a good level.
Picked in the second round of the QMJHL draft by Moncton, Spence had lofty expectations put upon him after being one of the best defensemen in the MJAHL during his draft year averaging more than a point per game. He then exceeded expectations taking sole possession of points for a rookie defensemen.
Spence is a great skater, I would go as far as saying that it is his best asset. His edge work in particular is superb, his turns are fast and effective aiding him in the breakout by opening up space to look for a pass or skate it out himself. Spence’s skating is not limited to his edge work however, his agility, acceleration and top speed are all excellent.
Another strength of Spence’s game is his hockey sense. His playmaking, anticipation of the play and decision making are all amazing and part of the reason why Spence is effective in all three zones.
Scout for Future Considerations Andy Lehoux says it best by saying, “Spence is a complete puck-mover two-way defensemen. His skating is simply incredible. His edge work is amazing and his turns are quick and seamless. He just moves around the ice so well.
He always has the head up to find a passing lane and check every option. He can start the breakout with an accurate pass or move the puck up the ice by himself. He creates so many controlled zone entries with his combination of great skating, vision and hockey IQ. Spence stays poised in all situations and his confidence with the puck is at an all time high.”
Spence is regularly deployed on both the power play and penalty kill. He does an especially good job on the power play, often going very low in the opponent’s zone to set up his teammates as shown in the clip below.
Spence also has an arsenal of other skills such as a hard, accurate shot, puck protection and aforementioned mobility that makes him an elite power play quarterback at the QMJHL level.
Bolstered by his skill set, Prince Edward Island’s own Jordan Spence was able to record 49 points (6G, 43A) in 68 QMJHL games played. That point per game number of 0.72 would be higher than other first-round QMJHL defensemen such as Thomas Chabot, Nicolas Beaudin and Pierre-Oliver Joseph. The 49 point total would also be the fourth most among all U18 QMJHL defenseman in the last 10 years.
What makes Spence’s point totals even more impressive though is that 32 out of the 49 points Spence earned have been credited as primary points.
Unlike many other top defensive prospects, Jordan has no real glaring weakness. He is good in his own zone, he uses his body adequately and is amazing in the transition game as well. Knowing this, I believe that put into the right system, Jordan Spence could blossom into a solid top four defensemen with power play capabilities.
Given that Spence is currently ranked as the 70th best skater in North America by NHL Central Scouting, I think it is safe to say that his talents have been unheralded this year. For me right now, Spence is a safe early second-round pick and I wouldn’t be surprised if other rankings soon opened their eyes to Spence’s skill set.