Flyers waive Weise as Fletcher keeps making moves

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New Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks and months as he tries to get the team out of its current predicament at the bottom of the NHL standings.

Before he gets to the major decisions (what to do with Wayne Simmonds? A permanent head coach? Other major changes to the roster?) he has been taking care of some work around the edges of the roster.

After dealing Jordan Weal to the Arizona Coyotes this past week, Fletcher announced on Tuesday that the team has placed veteran forward Dale Weise on waivers.

[Related: Flyers trade Weal to Arizona Coyotes]

The 30-year-old Weise signed a four-year, $9.4 million contract with the team prior to the start of the 2016-17 season but hasn’t really played up to the level the team expected from him. In 42 games this season he has five goals to go with six assists but has been held off the scoresheet entirely since Dec. 27 when he scored a goal in an overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Given that Weise still has another year on his contract at a salary cap hit of more than $2 million it seems really unlikely that another team is going to claim him on waivers. Assuming he clears, it could open the door for him to be sent to the American Hockey League, or perhaps even a trade in the coming days. If there is a team interested in adding him but isn’t willing to take on his entire salary this could get the steps moving to work out a deal with retained salary.

Sending him to the AHL would give him a buried salary cap hit of $1.3 million for the Flyers.

In his first two-and-a-half years with the Flyers he has 17 goals to go with 17 assists in 152 games. Just for comparisons sake, he had 14 goals and 13 assists in 71 games with the Canadiens and Blackhawks the season before signing that contract.

More: Why wait to trade for Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds?

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Trades: Flyers send Weal to Coyotes; Blackhawks get Koekkoek from Tampa

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In what could be the first of many trades by new general manager Chuck Fletcher in the coming weeks, the Philadelphia Flyers made a minor deal on Friday afternoon by sending forward Jordan Weal to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defender Jacob Graves and a 2019 sixth-round draft pick.

Weal, 26, had appeared in 28 games this season for the Flyers, scoring three goals to go with six assists and is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

For the Coyotes, it is obviously a short-term band-aid type of move for a team that has been absolutely decimated by injuries this season. Things only managed to get worse this week when the team announced that Nick Schmaltz will be sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a lower-body injury.

For Philadelphia, meanwhile, it could signal the start of a fire sale leading up to the NHL trade deadline. It has been a bitterly disappointing season that has resulted in massive changes throughout the organization, from the general manager’s office to the head coach. The only question that remains is just how many changes they make on the ice and whether they decide to tear it all down or simply re-tool. Wayne Simmonds is the big name to watch in the coming weeks as he, too, is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season and could be an attractive player for a contender.

[Related: Why wait to trade for Flyers’ Simmonds?]

This was not the only minor deal of the day.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning also completed a trade with Tampa sending defender Slater Koekkoek and a 2019 fifth-round draft pick to Chicago for Jan Rutta and a 2019 seventh-round pick.

Koekkoek was a first-round draft pick by the Lightning in 2012 (No. 10 overall). He was one of two first-round picks by the team that season, going nine spots ahead of current starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

What stands out about this deal for Tampa Bay is that the organization only has two first-round draft picks since 2010 remaining in the organization (Vasilevskiy and 2017 first-round pick Callan Foote). Every other first-round pick since then has been traded (either the pick itself, or the player the Lightning picked after the fact).

Koekkoek has appeared in 85 games so far in his career, scoring five goals to go with nine assists. That includes his nine games this season, where he tallied a single goal.

Rutta signed with the Blackhawks prior to the 2017-18 season, appearing in 80 games over the past two seasons.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Why wait to trade for Wayne Simmonds?

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A shrewd contender should ask themselves a simple question regarding a Wayne Simmonds trade: “Why wait?”

Simmonds’ name has been surfacing in trade rumblings lately, including when Darren Dreger weighed in on the matter during Tuesday’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading. Dreger and others indicate that Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher is still mulling over options, with at least some possibility for Philly to simply re-sign the 30-year-old power-play whiz.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports (sub required) that Simmonds’ reps are expected to increase pressure on Fletcher to make a decision soon (maybe by the end of the week), and while that might lead to some sweaty palms, it’s likely for the best overall.

In fact, it could end up being a situation where everyone – the Flyers, Simmonds, and a potential new team – wins.

Consider the many factors at hand.

Lame duck: Let’s face it, the Flyers essentially sealed their fate without Simmonds when they handed James van Riemsdyk $7 million per season with considerable term. The two players are just too similar from an age and role (power play ace, big body) perspective.

Unfortunately, it’s been a tough season for Simmonds and an even rougher one for JVR. Maybe it would be better just to move on?

On one hand, Simmonds has motivation as his near-$4M cap hit is set to expire, as his next contract is a true mystery. Could he get big money and big term? Would a slower season really hurt his bargaining power? The current situation doesn’t seem particularly happy for Simmonds, and the Flyers might not have a ton of luck driving his value any higher.

Plenty of selling points: Luckily, Simmonds brings a lot to the table already.

We’re talking about a forward who’s not that far removed from regular 30-goal seasons, and while his next contract could be risky, he’s a better bargain rental than that Oscar winner you nabbed at RedBox.

Naturally, he checks a bunch of old-school “intangibles” boxes. He’s a hard-nosed winger who plays with an edge and scores goals in the vaunted “dirty areas.” That style of play makes him risky for a long-term contract, but for a rental?

(Cuts to GMs salivating.)

Buying time: The waiting game may or may not make sense for the Flyers, but there are some significant reasons why a contender should get him sooner rather than later.

For one thing, there’s the stupidly simple logic: if you land Simmonds, that means your competitors don’t get him.

It’s also worth noting that, giving Simmonds’ affordable cap hit, that same contender might be able to land another big fish. Considering rumors about the Golden Knights allegedly running out of time to trade for Erik Karlsson, it might help to cross an item off of the to-do list.

Let’s not forget human elements, either.

When a player’s traded, that person has to find somewhere new to live, possibly relocating family too. Some players are creatures of habit almost to a Rick Spielman level of zaniness (looking at you, Jack Eichel, hopefully with more reasonable pants policies). Disrupting those habits could be a real bother, particularly mid-season.

The sooner you’d land Simmonds, the more likely you’d be able to get him comfortable with new teammates and new surroundings before the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs kick in.

You’d get more time to make sure you’re optimizing strategies on the power play, where Simmonds seems like a dynamite difference-maker.

And, hey, getting extra looks at Simmonds could be crucial if said contender is thinking long and hard about signing the winger beyond this season. It would be dangerous to make such a decision based on, say, 30+ games, but that would sure beat about 15 regular-season contests.

***

The proactive argument makes sense for quite a few would-be trade targets, yet Simmonds ranks as one of the clearer cases, as he’s one of those UFAs whose teams have been noncommittal about the future.

(In other words, he’s not being wooed with free vodka to stay in town, like Artemi Panarin is with Columbus.)

Seeing Simmonds score big goals for a contender might sting for the Flyers and their fans, yet trading him might help that franchise get back to a place where they’re doing the contending. Sometimes that means making tough decisions, and this is a great time to pull off that Band-Aid.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Capitals cruise by flailing Flyers

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At this rate, the Philadelphia Flyers might need to go through more than seven starting goalies. By the end of this week.

Mike McKenna presents a great story, but he’s still just one (journey)man, and the Capitals made it a tough first night for the 35-year-old. Actually, at times, you could just as easily say that the Flyers made things difficult for their new goalie.

Ultimately, Washington ended up winning 5-3, strengthening their Metropolitan Division lead while handing the Flyers their eighth consecutive loss.

While Tom Wilson stayed hot, Jakub Vrana was the standout Capital on Tuesday. He set the table for Wilson’s goal with a great assist, then added two goals of his own for a three-point night, showing fantastic speed. This shorthanded goal joined that nice pass as the standout moments of Vrana’s strong output.

Things started well enough for the Flyers, as Jakub Voracek responded to Wilson’s opening goal to send the game into the first intermission tied 1-1. The Capitals really only needed a hot second period on the strength of their Jakub, along with T.J. Oshie‘s goal, as Washington scored three times in the middle frame.

The Capitals remained up 4-1 for much of the third, until some late goals warped the score a bit. Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux scored to save some face for Philly, while Oshie’s second goal of the game (and 200th of his career) came on an empty-netter. (Tom Wilson appeared to get an ENG of his own, but it was ruled offside.)

Pheonix Copley‘s hot streak is no typo, as he looked strong in making 37 saves. He’s now 10-2-2 on the season and hasn’t been dinged for a loss since Nov. 14. Copley’s quickly alleviating any concerns about Washington having a dependable backup behind Braden Holtby after Philipp Grubauer left for Colorado heading into 2018-19.

McKenna ended his Flyers debut making 20 out of 24 stops.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers visit Capitals on NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday night’s matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The defending Stanley Cup champions are off to another great start to their season – with 54 points through the first half of the regular season, the Capitals sit first in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers, meanwhile, are the bottom-dwellers of the division and the in-season coaching change has not helped as Philadelphia has dropped seven straight after losing to St. Louis last night, 3-0. Blues’ goalie Jordan Binnington pitched a shutout in his first NHL start as the Flyers were booed off the ice after the game.

Washington is coming off a 3-2 win at Detroit on Sunday in which Michal Kempny scored the game-winning goal with 3:52 remaining in regulation. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak, which was the Capitals’ longest winless stretch of the season. Dating back to Dec. 6, Washington has won 10 of its last 14 games (10-3-1). The Caps will now return to D.C. after a three-game road trip and boast a 12-6-2 home record this season.

Since firing head coach Dave Hakstol last month, Philadelphia is 3-6-2 under interim coach Scott Gordon. The Flyers won their first two games under Gordon but are now in the midst of their worst slump this season, having not won a game since before Christmas (last win: Dec. 23 at New York Rangers). Scoring has especially been a struggle of late, with Philadelphia putting up no more than two goals in five of their last six games (seven goals total in span).

The Flyers have used an NHL-high sx goalies this season, and that does not include recently claimed Mike McKenna. Philly claimed the 35-year-old off waivers from Vancouver last week as he backed up 20-year-old Carter Hart last night, who stopped 34 of 36 shots against the Blues. McKenna could lucky No. 7 on Tuesday night.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
Where: Capital One Center
When: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Flyers-Capitals stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

FLYERS
Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny
Oskar LindblomNolan PatrickJakub Voracek
James van RiemsdykJordan WealWayne Simmonds
Michael RafflScott LaughtonDale Weise

Ivan ProvorovTravis Sanheim
Shayne GostisbehereRadko Gudas
Robert HaggChristian Folin

Starting goalie: Mike McKenna

CAPITALS
Alex OvechkinEvgeny KuznetsovTom Wilson
Jakub VranaLars EllerT.J. Oshie
Andre BurakovskyTravis BoydBrett Connolly
Chandler StephensonNic DowdDevante Smith-Pelly
(*Nicklas Backstrom is a game-time decision)

Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Dmitry OrlovMatt Niskanen
Brooks OrpikJonas Siegenthaler

Starting goalie: Pheonix Copley

Chris Cuthbert (play-by-play) and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will call Flyers-Capitals from Capital One Arena. Paul Burmeister, Keith Jones and Anson Carter will handle studio coverage.

MORE: Should Chuck Fletcher blow up or retool Flyers?