PHILADELPHIA – The NHL trade deadline might be still two weeks off but Chuck Fletcher isn’t waiting around to make some moves.
Looking to accommodate the wishes of Dale Weise, recently demoted to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and spare defenseman Christian Folin, Fletcher made a fairly significant transaction on Saturday.
He acquired defenseman David Schlemko and forward Byron Froese from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Weise and Folin, who was seventh (spare) on the Flyers’ depth chart.
Also on Saturday, Fletcher called up defenseman Philippe Myers from the Phantoms and put forward Corban Knight on waivers. Knight has been sidelined since Oct. 31 with a dislocated collarbone but recently was cleared for contact.
“It (the trade) is something we’ve worked on the last few weeks with Montreal,’’ Fletcher said. “Schlemko has a lot of experience in the league, he can play left side, right side. We think Schlemko and Myers should give us pretty good depth up here in the NHL.
“Froese is captain of Laval (Montreal’s AHL affiliate), he’s a real top two-way player at that level. He can provide depth.’’
For the moment, both Schlemko and Froese will play for the Phantoms.
Schlemko, 31, has appeared in 18 games for the Canadiens this season, averaging 19:51 of ice time per game while picking up two assists and four penalty minutes.
He’s also appeared in eight games for Laval, where he’s scored a goal and added three assists. A 6-foot-1, 196-pound native of Edmonton, Schlemko has 415 games of NHL experience with Phoenix/Arizona, Dallas, Calgary, New Jersey and San Jose, during which time he’s scored 18 goals and added 76 assists for 94 points.
Froese, 27, has appeared in 46 games for Laval this season, where he’s picked up 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points. He appeared in 48 games for the Canadiens last year, posting three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 48 games.
A 6-1, 202-pound native of Winkler, Manitoba, Froese has appeared in 110 NHL games for Toronto and Montreal, recording a total of five goals and 11 assists for 16 points. He was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Weise was signed by the Flyers as a free agent on July 1, 2016 and recorded 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points in 152 games with the Flyers. Folin signed with the club on July 5, 2018 and posted two assists in 26 games this season.
“Both players were, I think, looking for a bigger role and different opportunities,’’ Fletcher said. “We tried to accommodate them going forward.’’
Myers, 22, is in his second professional season. In 48 games for the Phantoms this year, he has posted nine goals and 20 assists for 29 points, along with a plus-5 rating. The 6-5, 202-pound Myers has appeared in 98 games for the Phantoms since joining the team prior to the 2017-18 season, gathering a total of 14 goals and 36 assists for 50 points.
The Moncton, New Brunswick native signed with the Flyers as a free agent on Sept. 21, 2015 before returning to his junior team, the Royun-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he played a four-year career. In 2013 career games for the Huskies, he posted 29 goals and 63 assists for 90 points.
As for Myers’ role with the team, Fletcher said he will leave that up to coach Scott Gordon.
“That will be up to the coaches,’’ Fletcher said. “Right now, after this trade, we’re down to 12 forwards and six defensemen, so we clearly need another player.
“He is a player who is most deserving and we’ll see. If he gets into a game in the next few days, time will tell. He deserves this opportunity, he’s played great.’’
Fletcher said the key time for Myers will be at the 2019 training camp where it is anticipated he will challenge for a starting job.
“He’s better than anyone we have down there (at Lehigh Valley),’’ Fletcher said.
Fletcher gave the impression the Flyers are still talking with Wayne Simmonds about a possible contract extension amid speculation he might be moved at the deadline.
“Two weeks is a lifetime before the deadline,’’ Fletcher said. “We’re working at it (a possible extension) every day. Wayne’s played hard, he’s played very well of late. I can’t commend him enough on his professionalism, his attitude.’’
>Winning streak hasn’t changed Fletcher’s outlook
Fletcher was asked if the recent eight-game winning streak changed his attitude going into the trade deadline.
“I don’t think it’s changed it at all,’’ Fletcher said. “We’re trying to win every game. I think it’s really important that we start building the right habits.
“Everybody we’re doing is building not only for now but next year. Nothing has changed.’’