(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)
Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall has been converting the team into his vision through patience, stockpiling draft picks and avoiding trades that directly damage the future of the organization. Hextall has also had to manage around some holdover contracts from the prior management team which has been challenging at times.
The 2016-17 Flyers saw some new blood injected onto the roster with highly-touted rookies Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. Watching them, along with Jordan Weal, join the team breathed life into what otherwise has been seen by some as a disappointing season overall.
While they both played through some early struggles at times, they have made improvements and are going to be integral components of the Flyers’ future for years to come.
While both Provorov and Konecny were widely expected to make an impact when they made their debuts, a nice surprise for Flyers fans came when Weal was called up to make his season debut. His speed and tenacity were immediately on display. He demonstrated equal aggressiveness with and without the puck. While he did not score in his first few games, he made an immediate impact driving shot generation while suppressing play on the other end of the ice.
In his first game, Weal lead all Flyers in Corsi percentage and remains in the lead with a CF% of 56.3. Once he found success scoring he did not look back. The 24-year-old, with just 21 games played, is tied for eighth on the team in goals and leads all Flyers in GF60 with 2.90 goals per 60 minutes played. Overall, he has eight goals and three assists for 11 points in his 21 games played. He is also plus-3.
Weal lead the Flyers AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley in scoring and was tied for second overall in the AHL when he was called up to the Flyers. He was scoring at more than a point per game rate for the Phantoms, so it may not be a huge surprise that he has been able to find his offensive game, even with the main club. Weal played well in camp for Philadelphia and was in consideration to make the team then.
Weal is currently an RFA making $650,000. Given his overall performance, it would be very surprising is he was not re-signed prior to July 1. He may even disrupt the team’s existing expansion draft plans as his play might make it difficult to leave him unprotected. Management may have to leave someone else exposed, Michael Raffl for example, who they had been intending to protect.
Hextall may want to give Weal a bridge type of deal to make him prove he can maintain his level of play before signing him to a longer contract term. Signing him to a short-term contract in the area of $1.6 million may be what Hextall might prefer for now.
Because he has played professional hockey for three years, but has not played 80 NHL games, Weal will be a UFA, not an RFA when his next contract comes up.
The infusion of young talent has certainly been a nice addition to the roster and has rejuvenated the fans enthusiasm. The fans knew that Konecny and Provorov would be putting their youth and talent on display this season. The surprising play of Weal was a boost this spring that most fans may not have expected.