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NHL free agency 2017: Jordan Weal’s agent has first meeting with Flyers GM Ron Hextall

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He’ll be a free agent on July 1.

Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jordan Weal remains one of the more intriguing questions this Flyers offseason.

We all know his backstory — a former AHL playoff MVP, he came over to Philadelphia in the trade that sent Luke Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier to Los Angeles. It may have well been a throw in, and for a year and a half it looked like Weal would toil away in the Lehigh Valley before hitting free agency this summer, ultimately leaving for a team that would give him a real NHL chance.

But he wound up getting that real NHL chance with the Flyers this past season, earning the call up in mid-February and shining in 23 games. Dave Hakstol, to his credit, gave Weal the opportunity to play in the top-six, really giving us a chance to see what the guy had at the NHL level. And Weal rose to the opportunity, scoring eight goals and adding four assists in those 23 games.

Now, back to that question: what do the Flyers do with him? Will he just get taken in the NHL Expansion Draft? Should they use a protection slot on him? Does he even want to stay here? (He’s said yes, FWIW.)

As it turns out, they’ve begun to talk.

It’s all still very complicated. Ideally, the Flyers would like to get a sense of whether or not Weal wants to stay, or whether or not the money can work, before June 18 when all NHL teams must submit their protected lists for the Expansion Draft.

If those questions are answered, I think that the Flyers should use a protection slot on him. Some may disagree with that because he only played 23 games, but for me, Weal seems extremely likely to be taken by a team in the position of Las Vegas, where they’ll be starving for top-6 talent.

Weal could be a nice little gamble — that’s a Vegas term — for them, and therefore the Flyers should do all they can to avoid losing him for nothing. His ceiling is also higher than a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare or even the useful Michael Raffl.

We shall see what happens.