Dale Weise may not have set a new career-high in points this past season, but the 28-year-old did notch a career-best 14 goals, had a higher average ice time than any season prior and looked like he could be a constant contributor to a team’s bottom six. So when Weise hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent, it was no surprise he was snatched up quickly.
The offer Weise went with was a four-year, $9.4-million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he had no shortage of options. In speaking with the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan, Weise said that the money on each of the offers he had was roughly the same, but it was Flyers GM Ron Hextall being the first to reach out and making it clear they wanted Weise — and weren’t chasing any other free agents — that persuaded him to sign in Philadelphia.
“With Philly, it was pretty direct, it was pretty honest,” Weise told Cowan. “They said: ‘Here’s how much money we have, we’re not trying to sign anybody else. You’re the guy we want. Here’s what we can offer, here’s where we see it.’ That was a big thing for me.”
Hextall wasn’t lying, either. Weise was the only major unrestricted free agent signing the Flyers made during the off-season, with the rest of Philadelphia’s moves centering on retaining restricted free agents and inking AHL talent.
Of the free agency process, Weise said it felt as if other teams were simply making the rounds when they called to talk contract with him. Weise told Cowan that he couldn’t help but feel the same things were being said to each free agent the teams were talking with, but there was at least one team who Weise considered heading to instead of the Flyers: the Montreal Canadiens.
For Weise, it would have been a return to Montreal after having spent the better part of two seasons with the Canadiens before he was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline. However, it took him reaching out to the Habs to get the ball rolling. Weise told Cowan that when the free agency negotiation period began, he and his agent got in touch with the Canadiens to express interest in returning. No offer was made until July 1, Weise said, and when one finally came it was a three-year contract worth “nowhere near” what Weise was set to get paid by the Flyers.
It might be a good thing for his career that Weise didn't head back to Montreal, though, because he likely wouldn’t have been provided the same opportunities he will be in Philadelphia. With the Canadiens’ off-season acquisitions of Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw, Weise’s role would have become more limited and he likely would have fallen to fourth-line minutes. That shouldn’t be the case with the Flyers.
“You look at their depth chart and their lineup and I think I fit in pretty well,” Weise told Cowan. “Anywhere on their second or third line, I think I’m going to get an opportunity to play a lot, play on the power play, play everywhere. So I’m excited.”
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