After acquiring Jordan Weal from the Kings, the Philadelphia Flyers face a decision on what to do with the former Calder Cup MVP.
When the Philadelphia Flyers traded away Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to the Los Angeles Kings, fans and experts alike heralded the move as brilliant. It created cap space and allowed two veteran players a move on from minimal usage.
In that same deal, they added one of the top AHL prospects, Jordan Weal. In turn, the young player went from one place where he couldn’t crack the lineup to another. His transition to the NHL has almost entirely watching the games from the press box.
Weal couldn’t be sent back to the minors without clearing waivers. Something that would never happen. So the Kings figured they’d get something for the kid in the trade and the Flyers looked to add another piece for the future.
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Yet, in the here and now, Weal couldn’t crack the Flyers lineup. He suited up for just four games in the orange and black. That’s hardly a decent sample size to evaluate the kid so much of his lure lies in potential.
In his 221 games with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs, Weal produced 173 points including 58 goals.
If you factor only his last two seasons in the minor leagues, he produced 139 of those points in 149 games. That’s .93 points per game.
However, he didn’t look sharp in his four appearances and injuries derailed any chance of him consistently staying in the lineup. A victim of the NHL’s waiver rules, Weal sat in the press box all season.
The offseason, however, brings a bit of uncertainty to this young player. Will the Flyers give him a qualifying offer to keep him in orange and black or simply walk away? The obvious answer would be to keep the kid aboard, but there’s a logjam at the forward position right now. Therefore, finding him a spot in the lineup will be quite trying.
Let’s consider that the obvious names of Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier aren’t going anywhere. Brayden Schenn is likely getting a nice raise this summer and Michael Raffl signed an extension during the season.
Scott Laughton has one more year left on his deal and Nick Cousins will see a qualifying offer come his way after his performance down the stretch forced coach Dave Hakstol to keep him in the lineup. Ryan White will likely be re-signed as well thus keeping the fourth line with Pierre Edouard-Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde intact.
Keep in mind, Travis Konecny is likely going to make a huge push to try and make the Flyers come training camp. He was traded this past OHL season by the Ottawa 67’s to the Sarnia Sting because the consensus was that he would be in the NHL in 2016-17.
Plug Konecny into the top six and the Flyers third line becomes the last shot for Weal, Cousins and Laughton to make the roster.
This doesn’t even take into account if general manager Ron Hextall brings in another forward via trade or free agency.
Hextall likely would’ve sent Weal to Lehigh Valley after the trade if he could, but the NHL waiver rules prevent it without someone claiming him.
Therein lies the issue with Weal, he has to impress immediately or face extended periods of sitting out. A problem that essentially forced the Kings to include him in the Lecavalier and Schenn deal.
Now, will the same thing happen in Philadelphia?
Hopefully not. The best case scenario is Hextall gives Weal a qualifying offer, doesn’t involve him in any deals and the 24-year-old impresses during training camp.
Keeping the kid around doesn’t hold the team back at all, he’ll be a cheap sign. However, letting him go means the Flyers lose out on a good deal of potential.
While potential isn’t everything, it’s certainly better than the alternative.