Flyers Acquisition of Weal Writing on the Wall for Laughton

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Is Scott Laughton on his way back to the AHL?
The Philadelphia Flyers made a salary-shredding trade this evening in sending forward Vincent Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 3rd round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and forward Jordan Weal.

Weal is a perfect example of a player in that stage of his career between the AHL and NHL. He made his NHL debut this season and has been on the Kings' roster all year - going pointless in 10 NHL games in 2015-16. In the AHL, Weal was a stud - 139 points in his last 149 regular season games and 22 points in 19 playoff games last spring on his way to a Calder Cup Championship. He's a restricted free agent after this season and carries a cap hit of $632,500 this year.

Here's the Flyers' press release explaining the moves, which see the Flyers retain half the salary of both contracts to Lecavalier and Schenn. Schenn is an impending unrestricted free agent after this season, so the Flyers will be off the hook for half of his $3.6 million cap hit this summer. Lecavalier carries a $4.5 million cap hit through the 2017-18 season but his agent says Lecavalier plans to retire at season's end.

While the Flyers only shed half of the combined $8.1 million salaries of Lecavalier and Schenn this season, it's quite possible they will have all of that space available to them next season if and when Lecavalier hangs up the skates.

Now to the part of the trade that could directly affect the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. With both Lecavalier and Schenn off the roster, the Flyers will need to bring up a forward - they already have seven healthy defensemen on the roster.

Newly acquired forward Jordan Weal is not waiver exempt, so unless the Flyers want to risk losing Weal for nothing after just acquiring him he will likely remain with Philadelphia. Keeping Weal would give the Flyers 13 forwards and seven defensemen and is the path of least resistance.

But then there is Sam Gagner, who Ron Hextall was reported to have said that he wanted him on the NHL roster but couldn't fit him in the salary cap. Gagner was waived and reassigned to the Phantoms last week and appeared in three games,

Now Hextall certainly has the space to bring Gagner back up to Philadelphia, which would give the Flyers 14 forwards and 7 defensemen.

So here's the big question, and yes it is a stretch.

If Gagner and Weal do indeed land spots on the Flyers roster now, does Hextall send Scott Laughton - who is waiver exempt - 45 minutes up the road to Lehigh Valley to get a guy who has been playing fourth line minutes in the NHL a much larger role in the AHL where he could get 20 minutes a night and continue his development? Laughton has seen more than 10 minutes of ice time with the Flyers just three times in his last 21 appearances.


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