Weight: 186 lbs.
Drafted: 4th Round, 2008 Draft
Last Year's Ranking: NR
Carolina's had a mixed approach on how to handle their prospects. They've acquired a lot of defensemen prospects over the last half decade or so and while some quickly made the jump to the NHL, others have stayed in the minors for years. One of those players is 2008 4th rounder, Michal Jordan. It's tough to follow the development of defensemen sometimes because they all mature at different rates. Some are ready in their early 20's and others can take longer than that before they're ready for the NHL. Where Jordan stands remains to be seen, but the Hurricanes have been patient with him, as he has spent the last three seasons in Charlotte and made his NHL debut last season.
Some might compare Jordan to other young defensemen and assume that there's nothing there because he is 23 and has only five NHL games under his belt. I don't think it's fair to assume that because not all defensemen are going to be full time NHL-ers before they turn 25 and Jordan never really got a chance to break into the NHL until last season. Jordan has also been one of Charlotte's top shutdown defenders for the last couple of years and has plenty of experience playing big minutes.
Playing a tough-minute role in the AHL is obviously a lot different than the NHL, as the competition is much greater in the latter but I still think Jordan has progressed a lot since he was drafted and is getting some great learning experience in Charlotte. He is smart enough to know what to do against more skilled forwards and has the size to match up well with them, so he could be a decent top-four guy in the NHL. His skating, however, has been somewhat of an issue and that's one reason why the Canes have been patient with him.
Injuries to Joe Corvo, Tim Gleason & Jamie McBain forced the Hurricanes to dig into their AHL system for defensive depth and Jordan is one of the players who got his chance this year. Unfortunately, he didn't get to do a whole lot, as he was used in a very limited third-pairing role. His performance was good, but it's hard to say that he was tested much and I think it's because the coaching staff didn't fully trust him yet. For a puck-mover, Jordan's mobility isn't the best and that's probably why the coaching staff held him to a third-pairing role during his time in Carolina. It's hard to play a guy in anything but a sheltered role if he has trouble skating, so Jordan will need to improve that part of his game before makes the jump.
Fortunately, skating is something that can be improved and learned over time. Size and hockey sense are things that come naturally, both of which Jordan is well-versed in and he could be able to make it in the NHL because of that. Still, I think he could benefit a lot by becoming more mobile. He has a good offensive skillset, but struggles to carry the puck into the zone and is hesitant to pinch because he runs the risk of getting caught deep if something goes wrong. With Jordan playing such a big defensive role in the AHL, I don't think his style of play will change that much but it never hurts to add another strength to your game.
Even with his strengths, Jordan's offensive upside is probably about average and I wouldn't expect him to produce a ton of points at the NHL level. Next year should also be a big challenge for him because Charlotte could have some new blood on their blue-line and he will likely be one of the "veterans" there. If Brett Bellemore makes the NHL, then Jordan will likely be trusted with most of the heavy lifting for the Checkers defense and play the majority of the tough matchups. I would expect Mark Flood or Matt Correntte to help out, as well but Jordan's likely going to play some heavy minutes. It should be a good test for him and if he handles it well, I think he will be ready for a full-time NHL role. Possible one beyond the third-pairing if he is good enough.
Young defensemen in general are a black box because you can't really track their development unless you watch them play and that often leads to some players being evaluated incorrectly due to confirmation bias & other issues. That being said, Jordan has come a long way since he was drafted and has made considerable strides over the last two years. He is playing bigger minutes, has been a solid shutdown defenseman at the AHL level and seems to get better every season. Improving his skating and staying healthy will be the keys for him in the upcoming season as he looks to take that next step.