A day after locking up Nate Thompson, Marc Bergevin signed the last of his midseason rental acquisitions, inking Jordan Weal to a two-year contract.
Weal was acquired back at the trade deadline from Arizona in exchange for Michael Chaput. It took a few games for him to get into the lineup but when Claude Julien gave him a look, he made quite the impression. Before long, he found himself as a regular on the power play and he made a bit of an impact there with three of his ten points with the Canadiens (in 16 games) coming with the man advantage. He averaged 15:36 per night with Montreal, well above his career average of 13:02.
It will be interesting to see where he’ll slot in next season. With this contract, all of Montreal’s regular lineup from last season is either under contract or a restricted free agent (Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia). Youngsters Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki are expected to contend for a roster spot while the team could certainly add up front over the course of the offseason. Weal finished up the season on the fourth line but it’s certainly possible that he could be in more of a reserve role to start next year.
With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Weal took a small pay cut to get this done. After making $1.75 million in each of the last two seasons, he’ll make $1.3 million next year and $1.5 million in 2020-21. That takes a bit of risk out of the deal as most of the contract can be buried in the minors if things really go off the rails. This contract could wind up putting Matthew Peca in that exact situation for next season as Weal is likely going to fill the role that GM Marc Bergevin wanted Peca to fill last summer – playing a speed game while helping at the faceoff dot and killing penalties.
With the forward depth they have under contract (or at least under team control), it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Habs look to move some of that out over the next couple of months. Weal is now going to be part of that group for the next two years and if he winds up playing the role he did down the stretch, this could wind up being a bargain.