This may come as a surprise but Dale Weise has been general manager Ron Hextall’s biggest free agent signing since he took the role with the Philadelphia Flyers. In his four summers at the helm, Hextall has never given a free agent as much money or as much term as he gave Weise last summer.
Unfortunately for Hextall and the Flyers, Weise didn’t come close to living up to that moniker last season.
With the Montreal Canadiens, Weise was always a strong depth scorer who also produced in clutch moments. The Manitoba native scored 14 goals with the Habs in 2015-16, but was shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks around the trade deadline and added just one assist in the last 15 regular season games. He did add a goal in the playoffs, but played just four games.
That slip in production didn’t scare away Hextall who signed Weise to a four-year/$9.4 million deal. That’s not a cap-restraining deal by any means, but based on the now-29 year old’s play last season shows some poor judgement on the GM’s fault.
Weise was signed to bring forechecking and some scoring depth. The first three quarters of the season showed anything but.
It took until Nov. 22 for Weise to score. He added a marker the next game and then didn’t find the back of the net again until March 15. In between, he was a common healthy scratch.
Weise isn’t a bad player like former Flyers R.J. Umberger or Vincent Lecavalier. He’s just not great at anything and seems a slight step behind in both skating and offensive creativity. He needs offensive players around him to produce because he’s not doing it on his own.
And that’s what happened to end the season. Weise played with Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn in the last quarter of the season and scored eight points in the 13 remaining games after the March 15 contest.
Still, it wasn’t enough to completely salvage his season. Weise finished with just eight goals and seven assists despite seeing top nine and second power play unit time.
Weise should have been in the battles for the bottom six, but there seemed to be a feeling that he was ahead of the majority of them. Being the general manager’s biggest free agent acquisition will do that.
The Flyers will put Weise in a position to succeed offensively. In the preseason he’s lined up with players like Travis Konecny and Valtteri Filppula while Michael Raffl, a similar player to Weise, has skated on the fourth line.
I don’t believe that means he’ll respond much offensively, but he needs a rebound and Philly thinks that can happen.
Unfortunately for Weise, the line that he played his best on last season won’t be able to form again this season with Schenn traded. He may still find himself on a line with Couturier, though.
With the added depth, Weise should be removed from the second power play unit, which is a good thing for the Flyers. More skill instead of net-front presence is important.
So Weise will see top-nine minutes again with similar to better linemates but no power play time. Last season that meant 15 points, but that was an off-year for most Flyers forwards.
Twenty to 25 points seems reasonable for Weise. That’s not great for a third-line player, but it’s manageable. The better spot for the former Ranger is the fourth line, but who knows if we’ll see him there.