The Dale Weise experiment isn’t necessarily over for the Montreal Canadiens, after all.
Weise Traded to the Blackhawks
Weise, who had been traded to the Chicago Blackhawks at the deadline along with Tomas Fleischmann, has recently expressed a desire to re-sign with the Habs once he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Of note, he even went so far as to say in the interview with Francois Gagnon that he would do all he could to sign a new deal with Montreal come July 1.
Put aside for the moment how Weise plays for another team. And put aside how, objectively speaking, that admission would be considered a major red flag character-wise for most other eligible suitors now that he’s in the middle of playoff series with that new team. It’s still a foregone conclusion the feeling is mutual.
Oh, the Canadiens can’t express said desire publically, likely for fear of being fined for contract tampering. However, it’s safe to say head coach Michel Therrien’s heart was set aflutter by the news.
After all, this is a role player, one whom Therrien has turned to on multiple occasions to fill in on the top two lines in a pinch with (sometimes) miraculous results. And there’s no concept Therrien would hypothetically love to “roleplay” with more.
I mean, Weise’s combination of speed, grit, size and clutch-scoring ability is enough to get most hockey people going. And Therrien? Who, at least up until Christmas had been giving Weise more ice time than Alex Galchenyuk (who ended up with more goals than Weise did points)?
Just picture their hands hovering over one another, separated by a pane of glass as Weise is forcefully pulled away back to Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville’s dog house, in other words.
It’s more accurate than you might think, even if Weise is enjoying the playoffs while the Habs are at home, hung over from a disappointing season. Weise has only played in one playoff game of four for the Blackhawks as of Thursday evening and was a healthy scratch a few times to end the regular season, having notched a single assist in his 16 total games with Chicago up to now.
It’s night and day relative to his time with the Habs, when Weise scored a then-career-high 10 goals and 29 points last season. He reached 14 goals this season in only 56 games with Montreal, which brings us to the point at which we are now.
It’s no surprise then that Weise would in theory want to come back to Montreal, where he enjoyed his greatest professional success. The real question is how much does he want to come back, though?
Weise is on a fairly cost-effective deal (for a near-30-point scorer) that pays him $1.025 million per year. He’ll be looking for a significant raise and will likely get it. However, is he really a 30-point guy, or a 15-point guy blessed with preferential deployment and 1:42 of power-play ice time per game as a Hab this year, with which he scored six points.
That’s maybe not so bad, when you consider David Desharnais had just five power-play points in nine more games with 2:18 on the power play each game… or it’s just more of an indictment of how bad Michel Therrien is at deploying players.
The bottom line is Weise is not a top-line guy. There’s no disputing that. But he’s not the problem here. No one should really blame him for wanting to come back to Montreal (although they could for expressing that sentiment right now). And, contrary to what most fans might be thinking, re-signing him wouldn’t be so bad, relatively speaking.
Not that Bad
In Weise, the Habs would get a player with which they are familiar. And he would fill a need… even if that need exists only in general manager Marc Bergevin’s mind.
#Habs Bergevin says he needs to add 3rd and 4th line scoring to compensate for lack of available premium scorers.
— Chantal ⛄ (@pucksnlife) April 11, 2016
So, look at it this way: Bergevin is going to try to sign someone like Weise to add scoring depth. As ridiculous a concept that is to wrap your head around, it’s going to happen. And Therrien will most likely be putting that player on one of the top lines every so often… whether it’s due to injuries or Therrien confusing hustle for chemistry and scoring ability, what have you.
It may as well be the devil you know, and, no, not Devante Smith-Pelly, in spite of his recent knack for scoring goals with New Jersey. Not only has he already been traded, but he’d undeniably still be in Therrien’s dog house, were he still a Hab.
So, that one condition that should be respected if the Habs do end up making a play for Weise? Only do it he’s willing to come back for what he’s actually worth and then go after an actual top-liner with the money you saved, giving Therrien no other choice but to play him above Weise in the lineup. Actually, do that first. Then go after Weise if you must.
Bergevin may not be in control of Therrien’s lines from game to game (not that Therrien has “control” of his line changing from game to game or period to period either), but he is in charge of the players Therrien has at his disposal.
Re-signing Weise wouldn’t be that bad. It wouldn’t be good, but, no, it wouldn’t be bad either. The good news is the Habs are in an enviable position this summer. They have space to improve after a disappointing season. And, if that’s the one thing Bergevin has no other option but to admit based on their record, it would make absolutely no sense to re-sign a player that, in spite of his personal success, was still part of the problem.
Marc Bergevin on #habs:"Even with all the injuries, I'm not happy with the situation and we're going to evaluate it at the end of the season
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) March 14, 2016
If Weise ends up Bergevin’s big free-agent acquisition, so is he.