Weise set for Cup run with Hawks ahead of unrestricted free agency

The Chicago Blackhawks are all in on another Stanley Cup run, acquiring Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann from the Canadiens.

MONTREAL — Dale Weise has more than one reason to extend his gratitude to Tomas Fleischmann.

It was with Fleischmann, and Canadiens centre David Desharnais, that Weise got off to a white-hot start to the season, scoring eight goals in his first 15 games. His previous career high, set in 2014-15, was 10 goals in a season.

“The chemistry between me and him was unbelievable from the start,” said Weise on a conference call Saturday. “I loved playing with him. He’s got a ton of skill, a ton of vision, he’s really easy to play with.”

Earlier in the day, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman told Sportsnet that the chemistry Fleischmann and Weise exhibited earlier this season factored into the decision to trade centre Phillip Danault and a second-round pick in 2018 to Montreal for both of them.

“Chemistry is important,” said Bowman. “When you add new players it’s something you have to look at.

“We like how Dale and Tomas have chemistry and we know (Andrew) Ladd (acquired from Winnipeg earlier in the week) can play with our group. So even though we have three new players, I believe they can blend in nicely.”

If it works as Bowman hopes it does, Weise and Fleischmann could be sipping from the Stanley Cup in June. That would only serve bolster the former’s value as an unrestricted free agent in July.

“I think when you look at the opportunity just to get a chance to win when you play for the Chicago Blackhawks, you look at their roster — adding Andrew Ladd, adding Tomas Fleischmann — I just think the roster, they look dangerous right now,” said Weise. “For me to get a chance to go play on a Stanley Cup contender, go deep into the playoffs — from an individual standpoint it’s huge for me.

“It’s only going to benefit me.”

While Weise ponders his immediate future, sitting on 14 goals and 12 assists in 56 games, he should also be thanking Fleischmann for offering him some perspective on the big decision he has in front of him.

The 31-year-old Czech native was one of several players between 30 and 35 years old forced to take a professional tryout last fall prior to settling for a one-year contract worth less than a million dollars.

Fleischmann had already earned over $23 million before landing in Montreal.

As for Weise, the 27-year-old Manitoban has never made more than the $1.025-million salary he’s currently making.

With elite players taking a bigger chunk of the pie, a salary cap that could be shrinking from year to year as the Canadian Dollar fluctuates, and a linemate in Fleischmann who was forced to take a PTO at 31 despite having scored 310 points in 581 games, Weise owes it to himself to the get the best contract available.

“I love the Montreal Canadiens,” Weise said Friday before he was traded. “This is where I want to be.”

But if the Canadiens could have offered Weise the best deal he’s likely to receive, he probably wouldn’t have been traded. That’s why talks between both parties — very few of them held since the beginning of the season — didn’t go anywhere.

As for Weise returning to Montreal come July — he hasn’t ruled out the possibility.

“It would depend on how he ranks various criteria leading up to unrestricted free agency,” said an NHL agent who does not represent Weise. “Every player is different. Is it money, term, quality of life for family (Winnipeg versus Florida), tax consideration, familiarity with teammates, coaching staff, or likelihood of winning sooner than later (Chicago versus Buffalo)?

“What I do is engage in a lengthy discussion of each fact and help the player analyze and assess his priorities. Ultimately for me, it’s the player who gives the agent his instructions of what he’s looking for.”

Most players should be angling for financial security, says Canadiens goaltender Ben Scrivens.

“It’s about setting your family up in the future, where they’re going to be able to live comfortably and not worry about a lot of issues,” said Scrivens on Saturday. “And not just for your wife and kids, but if you have a chance to take care of future grandkids — you gotta make the most money you can in the small window that you have.

“The average career is about four or five years. Not many guys get a chance to sign above the league minimum for multiple years. If you’re fortunate enough to sign something like that, you gotta jump all over it.”

Weise seems prepared to do exactly that.