The Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers have agreed to a rather rare trade, in which each club has sent two players that have not worked out with their team to the other, with neither really trading anyone that they considered valuable. The Canadiens have announced that veteran forward Dale Weise is returning for a second stint with Montreal and will be accompanied by defenseman Christian Folin. Heading to Philadelphia is journeyman defenseman David Schlemko and minor league forward Byron Froese.
Weise, 30, signed a four-year, $9.4MM contract with the Flyers as a free agent in 2016, but quickly fell out of favor in Philadelphia. After two and half seasons and a total of 34 points in 152 games, the Flyers waived Weise and, after he cleared, sent him to the AHL last month. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reports that it was around that time that the Canadiens and Flyers began putting this trade together, as Weise was done in Philly and desperately wanted to return to Montreal. Weise previously played for the Habs for parts of three seasons from 2014 to 2016 and found his greatest success with the team, recording 59 points in 152 games. Montreal hopes he can return to that level of production, as he is signed for one more year at $2.35MM, but for now they will take advantage of his waiver status. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that Weise has been assigned to the AHL’s Laval Rocket.
Folin though could be an asset right away for the Canadiens. The impending free agent was used sparingly in Philadelphia, skating in just 26 games for the team, but just last year played in 65 games and registered 13 points for the Los Angeles Kings. The 28-year-old is a bargain depth addition, as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that the Flyers will retain $150K of Folin’s $800K salary, bringing his cap hit down to just the $650K. The addition also gives Montreal another right-handed option on the blue line and a solid physical defender who plays well in his own zone. Karl Alzner has again been placed on waivers in an effort to bury him in the AHL to make room for Folin.
As for Philadelphia’s return, they add a veteran piece not all that different from Weise. Schlemko, 31, also cleared waivers and was sent to the AHL in January. The Canadiens initially acquired Schlemko, and his four-year, $8.4MM contract, from the Vegas Golden Knights after he was selected from the San Jose Sharks in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Hoping he could be a fixture on their blue line, injuries and simply poor play have instead limited Schlemko to just 55 games with the Habs over two years, as well as several minor league stints. While his cap hit next season, especially while buried in the AHL, is less of a burden for the Flyers, Schlemko is not even as much of an NHL option at this point in his career as Weise was. Case in point: NBC Sports’ John Boruk reports that youngster Phil Myers will be recalled to Philadelphia to fill Folin’s spot, while Schlemko will report to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Also headed to the Phantoms is Froese, who has not played in the NHL this season. Froese is a veteran of 110 NHL games and set a career high with 11 points in 48 games with Montreal last season, but has struggled to show that he is anything more than a fourth-liner at the top level. However, Froese is enjoying a strong AHL campaign and was the captain of the Laval Rocket. Lehigh Valley could use his leadership and production down the stretch and in the postseason and perhaps Froese will even get a look in Philly at some point. The 27-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will try to show the Flyers’ brass that he is worthy of an NHL contract.
All things considered, this is a big trade in terms of the number of players and some notable names, but means very little. New Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher saved himself some cap space next season by swapping out Weise for Schlemko and strengthened his AHL roster this year by adding Froese. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, whose team is in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, adds some needed depth in Folin and a fan-favorite who has a chance to rebound next season in Weise. Weise is a slight risk as a salary cap burden, and neither player has extraordinary upside, but it cost Montreal nothing of value to acquire them. Could the Flyers have gotten more? Probably, but at the end of the day neither team will likely end up regretting this trade as it is.