A nice guy, plus a hard-working center? The Sharks struck gold in drafting Jasper Weatherby.
Jasper Weatherby might better be known as the ‘people’s champion,’ just by being a genuinely nice guy. I don’t mean he’s a nice guy in the same way we call all generic hockey players nice guys simply because they’ve never posted anything heinous online and we don’t know anything about them — Weatherby shows regular, public support for the Black Lives Matter movement, among other social causes.
And listen, being anti-racist is the bare minimum of being an upstanding, regular person. We should all be actively anti-racist. But you can’t argue with the fact that hockey (unfortunately) isn’t the most progressive of sports, nor are the players likely to speak out about social issues, so when a player is outspoken in advocating for racial justice, it’s a breath of fresh air and a step forward for the sport as a whole.
Being a good citizen of this world isn’t all Jasper Weatherby is good at. He’s in the NHL, albeit by way of a non-traditional route, for good reason. He’s a hard-working, dependable player who gives 100 percent of his effort every time he steps onto the ice.
Weatherby played on various Canadian and American AAA teams, and two years in the BCHL for the Wenatchee Wild, until he began his NCAA Division I hockey career at the University of North Dakota. It’s there that Weatherby really broke out onto the scene.
However, the San Jose Sharks drafted the forward in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (102 overall), prior to his joining the collegiate system. Though there are plenty of NHL players with BCHL experience, it’s not often that players are drafted directly out of the league. Weatherby’s 74 points (37 goals, 37 assists) in 58 games made some noise, but it wasn’t certain how that skill would translate to other leagues.
The bet paid off, as Weatherby continued to play in the NCAA, and the 2020-21 season marked his final year, where he served as an alternate captain and posted 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 29 games. Foregoing a senior year, he signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Sharks in August 2021, immediately jumping into the world of professional hockey.
What We Like
A better question would be, what don’t we like about Jasper Weatherby? His temperament is the most important thing — ask anyone, and they’ll tell you that Weatherby is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people they know, and after having spoken with him a few times, I can confirm that he’s probably the most well-adjusted young person I’ve ever met.
Having a strong head on his shoulders is more valuable for the team than just being able to shoot pucks. When dealing with the ups and downs of a rookie season, combined with the stress of being a young person trying to figure themselves out post-college, a healthy perspective on mental health and work/life balance is phenomenal. He’s calm and collected, and even in in-game scenarios, Weatherby isn’t one to get visibly frustrated or chippy.
He knows his role as a bottom-six forward, and he plays it well. He’s dependable but energetic and is always able to get his line going, even when losing. Being able to rally the group and be a leader is huge.
Areas of Improvement
The defensive game of any young Sharks forward could use some tuning right now, but developing his instincts on the backcheck and learning how to better read the game from a defensive angle will help Weatherby’s game exponentially. He has the heart and the hockey sense, now it’s all about fine-tuning the details.
Utilizing his size — he’s a big fella at 6-foot-4 — in the corners and defensively is another aspect of his game that he’s already been improving, too.
The good thing is that he’s a quick, determined learner, and despite splitting the season with the San Jose Barracuda, Weatherby isn’t one to let the disappointment of a perceived demotion bring him down. It gives him a greater, slightly less-stressful opportunity to work on his speed, backcheck and instincts in a more controlled environment.
Is there anything better than a first goal video? Unlikely, and I could watch Weatherby hammer home his first NHL goal on repeat.