We’ve got some news breaking just before Saturday afternoon’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, as Chuck Fletcher has made his third trade as general manager of the Flyers. This one involves a couple of parts both coming and going, as the Flyers have sent Dale Weise and Christian Folin to the Montreal Canadiens:
TRADE ALERT: The #Flyers have acquired defenseman David Schlemko and forward Byron Froese from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Dale Weise and defenseman Christian Folin. https://t.co/cQR1mEL1wR— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 9, 2019
The Flyers are reportedly retaining $150,000 of Folin’s $800,000 contract, meaning they are now essentially paying $800,000 against the cap for Byron Froese (who was making $650,000).
For a move that features four players that all entered Saturday either at the bottom of their respective NHL rosters or in the AHL, there’s a lot to unpack here. First, a look at who’s gone. Weise, of course, was the biggest free-agent signing made by former general manager Ron Hextall prior to this past summer’s James van Riemsdyk acquisition, as the Flyers signed him to a four-year, $9.4 million contract in July 2016 that he probably never had much of a chance to live up to. His first year in Philadelphia showed some promising signs but lacked much in the way of tangible, obvious production, and things only tailed off for him from there in his second season.
This year, Weise has been waived twice — once at the end of training camp in October, and then again in mid-January. He went unclaimed both times, and was sent to the Phantoms in January following the All-Star break. Chuck Fletcher essentially came out and said in recent weeks that he didn’t see Weise as a part of the team’s plans moving forward, and has been looking for weeks to make a trade to send Weise to another team, even keeping Weise home from a road trip in the team’s last game before the All-Star break in January.
Per the Canadiens, Weise will report to the club’s AHL team in Laval. Still, it’s a chance for Weise to hit the reset button after his time in Philadelphia didn’t work out. Weise clearly had his supporters in the locker room ...
Nolan Patrick saddened that Dale Weise was placed on waivers: “He’s by far the best teammate I’ve ever played with.” #Flyers— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) January 15, 2019
... but he was never anything more than a fourth-liner here, and as soon as Fletcher determined he wasn’t even that, it was time to move on and find a way to offload the remainder of Weise’s contract. He’ll get a chance to put things back together in Montreal, the place where he’s been most successful in his NHL career.
Folin, meanwhile, has been the Flyers’ seventh defenseman this season. He was signed in the summer specifically for that role and he has been fine in it, but has mostly been relegated to only being used in the event of injuries or as a replacement when other defensemen have struggled.
This brings us to the players the Flyers have brought in. The less consequential acquisition here appears to be that of Byron Froese, a forward who has spent all season with Laval in the AHL. Froese, a fourth-round pick in 2009 by the Blackhawks who turns 28 in March, has had stints as an NHL fourth-liner in Toronto and Montreal, but appears to be mostly a fringe NHLer and a good AHLer. He will presumably report to the Phantoms, and with 30 points in 48 AHL games this year, there’s no doubt he can help them right away.
The new guy whose presence here is more noteworthy is David Schlemko. A 31-year old defenseman, Schlemko was in Phoenix/Arizona for the first six years of his career, but has become something of a journeyman since then, as the Flyers will be his eighth organization since the beginning of the 2014-15 season. Like Weise, things have not the way he probably thought they would since July 2016, when he signed a four-year, $8.4 million deal with the Sharks. Schlemko was then chosen by Vegas in the expansion draft in June 2017, only to immediately get traded to Montreal for a fifth-round pick.
Since then, Schlemko has been in and out of the Canadiens’ lineup and even their roster. He played in 37 games for the Canadiens last season, but was waived and sent to the AHL for a small part of the year. This year has been more of the same, as he played in only 18 games for Montreal — while dealing with injuries at the start of the season and again in December — before getting waived in early January and being sent to the Rocket once again. At the time of this trade, he was still in the AHL.
For a bottom-of-the-roster type, Schlemko’s a fairly respectable if unspectacular defenseman, and on the surface is probably an upgrade on Folin when healthy. So, on the surface, one could look at this trade as a pair of distressed assets (Weise and Schlemko) being dealt to new situations that may suit them better, while a pair of quad-A/bottom-of-the-roster players (Folin and Froese) were also swapped to keep positional balance.
However, the fact that Schlemko is currently on an AHL team means that the Flyers can send him straight to the Phantoms and recall Phil Myers and literally as I was typing this sentence this just happened and now I’m going to go write about that over in a different post. [UPDATE: Schlemko and Froese will indeed both report to the Phantoms.]
Both Schlemko and Froese will report to the Phantoms. Fletcher said that it will up to the coaches to determine if Myers jumps right into the starting six when he joins the team.— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) February 9, 2019