The Philadelphia Flyers have preached patience, patience, patience to no end with the fans of Philadelphia. Before the free agency frenzy began, the Flyers resigned a highly coveted Forward Jordan Weal, so they hoped to fly out of the gate on the opening day of NHL free agency. The Flyers did just that as they inked a steady Goaltender Brian Elliott to a two-year deal worth $2.75 million per year.
General Manager of the Flyers Ron Hextall has been firm, steady, and committed to the young core of prospects that are within the Flyers system. This was shown with the resigning of Weal. Could Weal be the missing key to rejuvenate Claude Giroux?
Giroux has been a steady forward for the Flyers since 2007. He enjoyed a career year with 93 points in 2011-12, thanks in large part to being paired with the “Ageless Wonder,” Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell. Here’s what Jagr said of Giroux in the 2011-12 season.
“I think he’s the top – I don’t want to say he’s the best right now in the league, but he’s top three for sure. I never thought at the end of my career I was going to play with a guy like that. And that’s what’s made me happy.”
Since then Giroux’s numbers have slowly dipped each season. For the 2015-16 season Giroux produced 67 points in 78 games played. Moreover, for the 2016-17 season Giroux produced 58 points in 82 games played, while only managing to score a measly 14 goals. Here’s a chart of Giroux’s stats. Goals are the first number indicated on the chart, followed by assists.
“The Captain” Giroux is the engine that runs the Flyers. As Giroux goes, the Flyers go. He has a world of talent, and he will be the first one to admit he has to be better. Now let’s take a closer look at Weal to see if he can rejuvenate Giroux.
Weal was born on April 15, 1992, in North Vancouver, British Columbia. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round of the 2010 NHL Draft.
The young prospect, Weal played all but ten games for the Kings organization in the AHL. While playing for Manchester Monarchs in 2015, Weal won the Calder Cup. He was also chosen as the MVP, as he registered 10 goals and 12 assists for the playoffs.
On January 6, 2016, Weal was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Vincent Lecavlier and Luke Schenn. The Flyers were able to shed a ton of salary, as well as, obtain a young prospect in Weal.
Weal closed out the 2015-16 season while donning a Flyers sweater. He was able to play in the Flyers last 4 games of the year. Flyers fans instantly noticed his speed, and the will he possessed to be successful with the big club.
The small 5’10”, 178 pounds, Weal finally got his chance on February 11, 2017, to stay up with the Flyers for good. The Flyers offense was hurting, and they needed a jolt. Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol intermixed Weal on the lines, and he provided them a spark with his speed.
With his flashiness to split through the opponents defense, Weal potted his first NHL goal against the Colorado Avalanche on February 28, 2017. He continued his success for the remainder of the season. Weal registered 8 goals, and 4 assists for a total of 12 points in 23 games played.
The flashy Left Winger Weal has a knack of knowing where to be. He has a great hockey IQ, and appears to be a natural goal scorer. Weal has a lethal wrist shot to go along with his explosiveness.
Fortunately, Hextall was able to resign Weal late this past Thursday night, a full day before the NHL free agency frenzy opened. The deal is a two-year deal worth $5.5 million. Weal was garnering interest from his hometown Vancover Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Soon after the Flyers resigned Weal, it became easier to formulate some lines for the upcoming 2017-18 Flyers season. The top line pairing should look like Weal, Giroux, Simmonds/Voracek. Either way this line is speedy, and that’s the first key to success in today’s NHL. Speed opens up everything. These players are more than talented to be a nightmare for opponents all season long.
This is an opportunity for Giroux to put the dust behind him, and become the player he once was when Jagr played here. Weal has the speed and the hockey vision to be a prototype Jagr type player on the top line. Of course, Weal is not Jagr, but they both play well with Giroux. Giroux should rebound this season with the help of Weal. One thing is certain Flyers fans the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports