Dale Weise, the right winger who was the Flyers' biggest free-agent addition in the summer, believes he is just starting to reach his prime and can build off a career-best season.
Weise was one of a handful of veterans at the Flyers' practice rink Wednesday even though they don't have to be on the ice until Sept. 23. He is in Voorhees early to get acclimated to his new teammates and the region.
"I have two young kids, so it's good to come in and see the area, find out where I need to go," said Weise, 28, whose family is renting a house in Cherry Hill. "Once training camp hits, there's not really a lot of time for that kind of stuff, so I just want to be ready for when we get going here."
The 6-foot-2, 206-pound Weise (rhymes with peace) brings some much-needed size and feistiness to the Flyers lineup. General manager Ron Hextall signed the winger to a four-year $9.4 million deal, with an annual salary-cap hit of $2.35 million.
"I'm really excited. I really like what Hexy had to say and what he thought about my game," said Weise, who played both wings, took lots of faceoffs, and was on several lines last season while playing for Montreal and Chicago. "He was very honest, and I liked that we're on the same page. I think I can play on any line and play in any role."
Weise said he likes the Flyers' mix of young players and veterans.
"I think the East is so wide open," he said. "You look at the West and I think there's eight really, really talented teams, and I think in the East, anybody can win, so I'm excited."
A six-year veteran, Weise finished with a career-high 14 goals last season, but all were scored with the Canadiens. He had no goals in 15 games with the Blackhawks.
"I had 14 goals by mid-February," he said. "Going to Chicago was a disaster because I played like five minutes a night. [Actually it was just under 10 minutes, which is still a paltry average.] It's pretty tough to do anything when you play so little. It was a new experience for me."
Weise said he is "absolutely" getting better each season and believes his peak years are ahead of him. It wouldn't be surprising if he played on the Flyers' third line.
"I think for sure I can score more than 14," he said. "I think I'm going to get a chance to play with some really good players here and play some minutes."
The Winnipeg native said he appreciated Hextall's honesty during their initial talks.
"He said they weren't really looking for many guys and I was one of the guys they were targeting," he said. "They didn't have the money [under the salary cap] to go out and try to compete with the other top free agents. He was honest, where a couple other teams were kind of going down their list when talking to them and you weren't really a priority to them. You want to go someplace where you're wanted, and I really felt like Hexy wanted me here."