By Tim Panaccio
I’ve been pretty nervous about the Flyers holes on the left side, especially after the trade of Brayden Schenn.
Thursday night’s re-signing of Jordan Weal makes a lot of Flyer fans feel a bit more relaxed.
I didn’t picture Jori Lehtera as a complete fix on the left side, nor did I see him as an adequate replacement for Schenn, who had the ability to move to wing and seemed better there, despite a lack of 5 on 5 offense last season.
That’s not to say that Lehtera is going to adept easily or quickly to moving to the wing as both coach Dave Hakstol and general manager Ron Hextall suggested last weekend at the draft.
It remains a question mark.
Weal has a modest, two-year bridge deal worth $3.5 million with a very sensible cap hit of $1.75 million. He had been talking to his hometown club of Vancouver – remember, there is a free agent window now for discussions – but the Flyers got it done before free agency begins on Saturday.
Weal called his re-signing, “awesome.”
“They gave me a great chance last year to play with some great players,” Weal said. “I think this group’s headed in the right direction.
“We’ve got a lot of talent and skill, especially with some of the additions we’ve made. I’m just really excited to get back and start the year the way we finished it.”
The Flyers need to make the playoffs next season, that’s for certain, after missing out this year.
“I think we have the group to do that,” Weal said. “That’s what it’s gonna be all about. Winning games right from the start and carry that through for the rest of the season.”
With Weal’s re-signing, I penned in a line of him with Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds. I felt the line Weal finished the season with – Valterri Filppula centering him and Simmonds – was pretty good.
Thing is, “if” Nolan Patrick makes this roster as many project he will, you can’t keep the Filppula line intact without sending Couturier to the fourth line and the Flyers aren’t going to do that.
Right now, you could see Filppula centering Dale Weise and Lehtera.
The other thing to remember here is that Hextall was fairly insistent at the draft that Scott Laughton is in the mix and could very well make the roster. He said more than once that Laughton had made great strides in his game.
Where Laughton fits right now is anyone’s guess because a few years ago, the organization just didn’t see him as a winger but that apparently is no longer the case.
All of this has to play out in training camp.
“With Brayden Schenn moving to St. Louis, there are some quality minutes being there [for the taking,” Hakstol said. “I envision some of those minutes going to a young player or two or three. Who’s ready to do that? And who’s ready to step in? That is my thought process.”
Training camp should be very interesting.
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