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2016 NHL Trade Deadline: Evaluating Dale Weise's value, best fit, and acceptable return

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Dale Weise is a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and could provide an offensive boost to a playoff-bound team.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is winding down, and a playoff spot is nearly unattainable for the Montreal Canadiens.

With the trade deadline coming up on February 29, the team will not be looking to add pieces for a playoff run, as they did the previous two seasons, bringing in Thomas Vanek and Jeff Petry, but rather be the team to offload some players on expiring contracts to teams with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Originally acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks for Raphael Diaz, Dale Weise performed much better than his stats indicated he was capable of at the time.  Putting up three goals and one assist over the remainder of the 2013-14 season for Montreal, Weise showed off his true potential as a depth offensive player with seven points in the Canadiens' journey to the Eastern Conference Final.

He followed that up with 10 goals and 19 assists in his first full season with the Habs last year, and had set a new career high in goals — with 11 — on December 28 in his 38th game of the 2015-16 campaign.

Offence is the name of Weise's game. He hasn't been particularly good in his defensive zone, often looking for the first opportunity to get back up the ice and go on the attack, and not putting in the necessary work to gain possession in his team's favour before doing so.

Once that possession is attained, and the puck gets into the offensive zone, Weise is able to show off his impressive offensive instincts.  He has a nose for the net, though not quite the hands to match, and shows the awareness to make some skillful passes to create offensive opportunities for his linemates.

Can Weise be re-signed?

Weise's offence would be welcome for the Habs next season.  A reasonable contract around $2 million per season on a short-term deal could make sense, However, it doesn't seem that any serious negotiations between Marc Bergevin and Weise's agent have taken place.

The type of deployment Weise needs to be effective — playing sheltered minutes largely in the attacking end — would be better used to transition one of the NHL-ready prospects waiting for his chance to crack the lineup into the big leagues.  Needing to create some spots for players who've developed as much as they're going to in the minors, the team doesn't need to extend depth players to fill out the roster.

Best fit for a move

An acquisition of Weise would make the most sense for a team that plays a solid defensive game, and can afford to give him the type of deployment that would get the best out of him.

Several teams fit that description. The Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals, and Chicago Blackhawks are teams that could give Weise the offensive minutes he needs, though probably have enough offence without taking him on.  Milan Lucic's Los Angeles Kings, the St. Louis Blues, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, and Anaheim Ducks are all defensive teams that could do with a helping hand on the offensive side of the puck, and it seems those are exactly the types of teams interested in acquiring the winger's services.

I'm not convinced that the Piitsburgh Penguins could be qualifed as a defensive team struggling to find offence, but the club appears to be interested in his services, and Dutch Gretzky could do very well with some of the skilled forwards the team has.

Acceptable return

Marc Bergevin will be pushing hard for a second-round pick and perhaps more, especially from a team that is determined to go on a deep playoff run and compromise their draft position in the process.

The negotiation may knock that down to a third-rounder, which wouldn't be an ideal recompense, but would still be a decent asset to acquire for a player who would likely only have played 20 more games with the team. A good junior-aged prospect who can help to stock a virtually bare cupboard would be an acceptable piece to have come back the other way, as well.