Jordan Weal said that he was interested in staying in Montreal, and that’s just what will happen. The Canadiens have signed the pending free agent forward to a two-year extension that carries an average annual value of $1.4MM. That makes three trade deadline acquisitions that Montreal has extended, along with Nate Thompson and Christian Folin.
Weal, 27, is actually taking a pay cut to stay in Montreal after earning an average of $1.75MM the last two years. That deal came after a late-season goal scoring run with the Philadelphia Flyers and his impending Group VI status, putting pressure on the front office to get a relatively young player under contract before another team snatched him up. After all, Weal had long been an excellent offensive contributor at the minor league level and the Flyers couldn’t let talent slip through their fingers. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make good on that contract in Philadelphia and recorded just 30 points in 97 games before being shipped out to Arizona. The Coyotes didn’t have much use for him either and sent him to Montreal just over a month later in exchange for Michael Chaput.
With the Canadiens though, Weal showed once again that he can perform if put in the right situation. The forward saw an increase in ice time and responsibility in Montreal and responded with ten points in 16 games, including a good showing on the Canadiens powerplay. That will likely be a big part of his role next season, one that could make this contract look like quite the bargain.
The Canadiens still have several restricted free agents to get under contract including Joel Armia, Artturi Lehkonen and Brett Kulak, but have plenty of cap space to get it done and go shopping on the open market in June. Jonathan Drouin remains their most expensive forward at only $5.5MM, with others like Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron remaining some of the biggest bargains in the league. GM Marc Bergevin had a surprising club that just missed out on the playoffs this season, and if he continues to make shrewd acquisitions like Weal—provided his offense doesn’t disappear again—it’s a good bet he’ll get the Canadiens back to the postseason tournament before long.