Weise’s hot start has him set to cash in this summer

Kyle Turris scored 34 seconds into overtime for the Senators to hand the Canadiens their third loss of the season, winning 2-1.

BROSSARD, Que—This is Dale Weise’s chance at the biggest payday of his career. He’ll be 28 in August. He’s in his prime and he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Weise set career highs in nearly every statistical category last season. Most notably, he scored 10 goals and 19 assists, and was plus-21 in 79 games.

Through 14 games this season, he’s tied with Max Pacioretty for the team-lead in goals (seven), has three assists, and he’s plus-7.

His case for a lucrative deal gets stronger when you consider his Stanley Cup playoff resume. Weise has three game-winning goals over two post-seasons with the Canadiens. He also forced Game 3 of Montreal’s 2015 first-round series with Ottawa into overtime with a timely goal. And he scored the opening goal in Montreal’s 3-1 Game 7 win over the Boston Bruins to help the team advance to the 2014 Eastern Conference final.

“I think he’s taken the next step to his career,” said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien Wednesday. “Understanding the game, the confidence. Right now he’s playing with a lot of confidence. That’s why he’s part of the power play and he’s doing a good job. Maturity—it’s a process. I think he’s brought his game to another level that I was expecting.”

Here’s the rub. Weise loves Montreal. And he knows that if the Canadiens are going to remain competitive over the life of his next contract, it will be contingent on him (and his teammates) taking a little less of the pie to keep the team intact.

“The biggest thing that you see in the league is that team success obviously rewards individual success,” Weise said.

But Weise isn’t merely reaping the benefits of a deep and balanced roster opening up space for him to sneak onto the score sheet. Nor is his success solely the byproduct of playing with quality linemates in David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann.

“I did a tremendous amount of work in the off-season on ice, probably 10 times more than I’ve ever done,” he said. “Skill work, shooting pucks, in tight plays around the net; I spent a lot of hours on that with Dave Cameron, my skills coach in Winnipeg.”

Weise and his wife also welcomed a second child over the summer. Surely, he understands that the time to cash in is now.

Fleischmann, 31, was one of a host of capable depth players hit hard last summer by the squeeze the sagging Canadian dollar placed on the salary cap.

Fleischmann had accumulated 310 points in 581 NHL games and had earned $23.8 million in his career before accepting a one-year, $750,000 contract to play in Montreal.

By comparison, Weise will have earned just $5.75 million over six NHL seasons by the end of 2015-16.

“You always want to play for a winning team,” Weise said two weeks ago. “It’s a bit early in the season, but I really believe that this team is on the right road to accomplishing big things.”

What remains to be seen is whether Weise’s contract demands preclude him from being a part of that beyond this season.

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