Chuck Fletcher has had about a month to dissect the play of the Philadelphia Flyers as the team’s new General Manager, and he finally made his first trade. The trade was not a major one, but it could be the start of something bigger.
Fletcher traded center Jordan Weal to the Arizona Coyotes for a sixth round pick in the NHL Entry Draft and defenseman Jacob Graves. Weal was due to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer, and it was clear that he was not in the Flyers’ future plans. It makes sense for Fletcher to make a move and get something for the 26-year-old forward instead of just letting him go for nothing in free agency.
Weal has been a healthy scratch for most of this season, but in the 28 games played he had three goals, six assists and nine points. The forward only averaged 13:57 of ice time per game when in the lineup, but he was impressive on face-offs, winning 59.7% of the ones that he took. He was starting to get to see the ice with regularity once Scott Gordon was named the Flyers’ interim head coach, but the the numbers just weren’t there. It hasn’t helped that the Flyers have been terrible this year and he didn’t exactly get to play with the higher skilled players at times.
The forward was acquired by the Flyers on Jan. 6, 2016 when he was traded along with a third round Draft pick (Carsen Twarynski) by the LA Kings in exchange for forward Vincent Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn. In four plus seasons with the Flyers, Weal played in 124 games, where he had 19 goals, 23 assists and 42 points while averaging 13:25 of ice time per game. His best season came during the 2017-18 campaign where he played in 69 games scoring eight goals and getting 13 assists for 21 points.
The biggest problem while he was with the Flyers was the fact that former head coach Dave Hakstol would play veteran players over Weal, even though Weal brought more to the lineup than those players did. It seemed like the only way that the center could get into a game was for there to be an injury, and once he managed to get on the ice, it was hard for him to stay there. Weal’s biggest problem while he was with the Flyers was consistency both in-game and game-to-game. He would disappear during games or try to do too much, which would sometimes lead to scoring chances or extended offensive zone time for the other team.
It may seem like he didn’t get a fair shot while with the Flyers, but this could be the fresh start that he needs to get going again. He will add some speed to the Coyotes lineup along with some good neutral zone play. Weal can setup his teammates or score some of his own goals created by his speed. The center can think of this as an audition for the summer when teams will likely be looking for a top nine forward that won’t break the bank.
If Weal can become a more consistent player overall and improve on the defensive side of the puck then he has a chance to get into the top six of a lineup, but even if he doesn’t do that he can still manage to be a productive bottom six forward. He can also be used on the power play should the Coyotes need any help on the man advantage.
Graves will be coming to the Flyers since the Coyotes already were at the maximum number of contracts allowed per team before the addition of Weal. The defenseman is 6’2” and 194 pounds. He spent his season playing for the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL, where he compiled two goals, five assists and seven points in 32 games this season. Graves has a physical side to his game and will take some penalties.
The 23-year-old defenseman seems like he will be a depth defenseman for the Flyers should the injuries start piling up or call-ups to the NHL start happening. He was assigned to the Reading Royals, the Flyers ECHL affiliate earlier today.
This trade seemed like a good one for both sides since the Coyotes can see what Weal can bring to their lineup, while the Flyers were able to get something for a player that is clearly not in their future plans.