With the Calgary Flames’ lone fifth-round selection in the 2021 NHL draft, they selected smooth skating defenceman Cole Jordan out of the WHL. Jordan has been lauded as an analytics darling already in his young career, and looks to be a great value pickup by the Flames in the draft. Let’s take a look at what he brings to the table.
Who is Cole Jordan
Jordan is a Canadian-born defenceman hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He played AAA in the Brandon Wheat Kings organization from 2015 through to 2019, leading up to his WHL draft year. Jordan went undrafted in the WHL draft, but the Moose Jaw Warriors signed him to a contract following the draft. He’s spent the last two seasons in Moose Jaw. He stands at a solid 6’2″, 205 pounds.
|2019–20||D-1||Moose Jaw Warriors||WHL||38||1||6||7||0.18|
|2020–21||D-0||Moose Jaw Warriors||WHL||23||3||7||10||0.43|
Following his rookie season, Jordan saw a decent increase in his point production. He picked up three more points in 15 less games, bumping his points per game way up from his his rookie season. His 10 points were second on his team among defenceman behind only Minnesota Wild 2020 third-round pick Daemon Hunt. His point total ranked 10th among WHL defencemen in their D-0 years.
Due to the pandemic the WHL season was much shorter than usual last year so Jordan’s sample size from his D-0 season is pretty small, but it’s still nice to see that he posted a considerable bump to his P/GP from his rookie year. Expect his point total to go way up next season in a full season in a larger role on the Warriors.
What does Jordan bring to the table?
The first thing that pops out about Jordan’s game is his high-end skating ability. It’s pretty rare that you find a defenceman his size who can skate as well as he can. With the league getting faster and faster, skating and transitional play has become crucial for any NHL defenceman and Jordan excels in those two areas. It’s also an area in which the Flames have struggled in since T.J. Brodie left the team. Here’s a great example of him showcasing his ability to evade pressure in the defensive zone and make sure the puck gets moved up ice cleanly.
He’s got a great stride and is incredibly smooth when he skates. He also has a deceptively quick top-end speed. Once he gets going he can really fly up and down the ice. He also has really strong edgework and ability to change direction quickly. Among 107 players profiled by Elite Prospects for the 2021 draft, Jordan was one of only four to receive a 7/10 for skating, the highest in the draft class.
The tools we saw from Jordan in those minutes make him among the 2021 NHL Entry Draft’s most exciting defensive prospects though. One of only four players in this guide to receive a skating grade of 7, Jordan’s stride is closer to perfection than average. He consistently achieves optimal posture, with his knees pushed over his toes and full hip flexion with his chest up. Full extensions finished with a toe snap and forward-driving recoveries with a minimal heel kick, along with knee-over-knee crossovers with inside-leg push off generate a projectable separation gear in the NHL. Not short on skating skill, he uses fully torsioned jam turns followed with an explosive crossover to separate in-tight.Elite Prospects 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Jordan uses this skating ability to his advantage in the transition game. He is exceptional at moving the puck up ice and exiting the defensive zone with possession. Similar to fellow Flames prospect Jeremie Poirier, Jordan loves to have the puck on his stick in the neutral zone and when he gets going he can be very hard to contain. Jordan had some of the best underlying numbers in the entire 2021 draft when it comes to skating and transition play. His zone exits and entries are elite.
Jordan also uses his skating to his advantage on the defensive side of the puck. He is a great overall defender. Due to his skating, mobility and size he is a very tough player to beat one on one and is constantly forcing players to the outside. He has excellent gap control and makes things very tough on attacking players. He isn’t overly physical, but he isn’t afraid to use his size to separate an opposing player from the puck.
He’s a very smart player and is great at jumping into passing lanes to pick off passes. He uses his quick skating, mobility, long reach, and hockey IQ to regularly come out of nowhere to intercept opposing team passes. Just look at this great read from Jordan as he jumps up into the play to intercept a pass and goes right into the zone to rip one by the goalie.
The biggest knock on Jordan is his lack of dynamic offensive ability. He doesn’t possess a great shot or great passing ability, which limits his ability to contribute offensively despite his great skating. His passing can be erratic at times with his stretch passes missing his teammates. He can also get caught trying too much at times and pinch when he would be better off staying back in a more safe position.
Despite some of his deficiencies, Jordan possesses some very intriguing tools that could make him an effective player in the NHL one day. He’ll have to work on finding some more consistency in his game going forward, but there is not denying his high end skating ability and hockey IQ.
Now more than ever, skating and transitional play is huge in the NHL and Jordan should be able to use his skills in those areas to reach the NHL one day. If he can round out his offensive game, and continue to develop his already very strong skating and transitional play he could turn out to be a steal for the Flames in the fifth round. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him to develop into a dependable second pairing defenceman at 5v5 who can play on the penalty kill.
What is next for Jordan?
Jordan will return to Moose Jaw next season and will be looking to take on a larger role with the team as a 19-year-old. With Wild prospect Hunt also likely returning to the Warriors, look for Jordan and Hunt to carry the load on defense for the team. Although he isn’t known for his offense, it would be encouraging to see Jordan bump up his point totals in the WHL this coming season.
This following season could be his last in the WHL however, as he was born in October, 2002 he will be eligible to play in the AHL during the 2022–23 season as a 20-year-old. Whether or not he returns to junior again next year or makes the jump to the AHL will depend on how his game progresses this year during the 2021–22 season.
Jordan is one of the more intriguing prospects picked by the Flames this year, and following his progression over the next couple years will be a storyline worth keeping a close eye on.