A day of minor trades continues with a somewhat more high-profile swap between the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes. The third deal of the day sees forward Jordan Weal heading to Arizona in exchange for a 2019 sixth-round pick and ECHL defenseman Jacob Graves, as first reported by Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and later confirmed by the teams. Weal is an impending unrestricted free agent.
While it may seem strange that the Coyotes, just three points ahead of 30th-place Flyers in the league standings, are acquiring a rental player, one look at Arizona’s injury report will help to explain the move. The team has been without Christian Dvorak all season, lost Nick Schmaltz for the remainder of the year, have been missing Michael Grabner since early December, and today added Brad Richardson to the injured reserve. The team is sorely lacking in NHL-caliber forwards and found one in Weal for a relatively affordable price. Weal is likely to slide into a top-nine role for the Coyotes and could treat the opportunity as a tryout for a new contract, so as to avoid what might be a quiet off-season market for his services.
Weal, 26, is just two years removed from a season in which scored better than a point-per-game in the AHL for a half season and better than a half point-per-game with the Flyers for the other half. At 24, Weal hit the open market as a Group 6 UFA, but Philadelphia paid to keep him around with a two-year contract worth $1.75MM per year, despite having less than half a season of NHL experience. He has fallen short of expectations as a full-time player, recording 21 points in 69 games with the Flyers last season and just nine points through 28 games this year, serving as a frequent healthy scratch over both campaigns. Where Weal has excelled this season is at the face-off dot, with an impressive 59.7% mark. He has also been a strong possession player, holding a 54.8 Corsi For % that trailed only Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny among Flyers forwards. The scoring has simply been lacking from Weal, an issue that the struggling Flyers could not afford to let him work out. While Weal may seem like just another depth piece on a Coyotes team filled with similar players, GM John Chayka will likely take a look at him in a variety of situations to see whether or not he would be a long-term fit in Arizona. Don’t rule out the possibility that he could be traded again before the deadline – or waived – if he gets off to a poor start. Regardless, Weal certainly wasn’t going to be a fit moving forward in Philadelphia and new GM Chuck Fletcher will be happy to land a draft pick for a player he planned to let walk.