The first thing you should know about new Colorado Avalanche prospect Tyler Weiss is his name isn’t pronounced how you think it is. It’s pronounced “wees”, like Dale Weise. This way, you can have conversations with your friends about him and sound more like you know what you’re talking about. It always is a good thing to pronounce names correctly.
But more important than that is the route Weiss took to becoming the Avalanche’s fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. It isn’t just your usual “player from a non-traditional market” story. Weiss didn’t take the most straightforward of paths to the spot he’s in now, and the bumps in the road have only made him a stronger person and player, and that is why I would bet on him to become an NHL regular someday in the future.
Weiss grew up in North Carolina, a state that has only produced one NHL regular to this point (Patrick O’Sullivan), and quickly emerged as the crown jewel of the state’s quickly-growing hockey community. But along the way, he faced some major adversity, the likes of which have been a huge problem with youth hockey in America but isn’t talked about nearly enough. According to an article in The Athletic written by Sunaya Sapurji, the Weiss family’s finances would not allow Tyler and his older brother Ryan to continue playing hockey into their teenage years, but Ryan willingly gave up the sport to allow Tyler to further his budding career.
At the age of 14, Weiss left North Carolina to ply his trade in the Greater Toronto Hockey League with the Don Mills Flyers. He would play two seasons with the team, putting up a 28-35-63 stat line in his second year. USA Hockey also kept a close eye on him, inviting him to the Youth Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway in February 2016. Weiss excelled at the tournament, ending up with nine points––one off the team lead––and a gold medal for his efforts. The national federation was undoubtedly impressed with his performance, and he was an easy choice when the NTDP roster was announced two months later.
While Weiss’s numbers with the NTDP were never eyebrow-raising, I thought he played his middle-6 role very well over his two years with the program, and showed he was adept at playing both the left and right wing positions as a left-handed shooter. USA Hockey has notoriously shortened their bench at major international tournaments, but Weiss wouldn’t let that affect his play at the World Under-18s this past April, with two goals and two assists as the US took home a silver medal.
Weiss originally committed to play his college hockey at Boston University at the age of 15, but the Terriers did not have enough room to bring him in for the 2018–19 season. So instead of waiting a year and playing in the USHL, Weiss decided to look elsewhere for an opportunity to play college hockey right away. He landed on the University of Nebraska Omaha, an improving program that produced another undersized forward with great offensive instincts, Jake Guentzel.
Weiss should receive a big role early on in his college career, and it will be up to him to take advantage of the opportunity. If he puts up higher point-per-game numbers than he did in junior, and bulks up from his current 160-pound weight, he could turn pro after three years of school. Either way, Weiss is someone Avalanche fans should keep an eye on, and he should be a fan favorite if he does make it to the NHL.