Part of this year's offseason saw Kenny Holland change the Red Wings roster around, saying goodbye to second line cornerstone(?) Valtteri Filppula as well as adjusting different lines and defensive combos to give Mike Babcock some room to work. In addition to letting Damien Brunner walk to New Jersey (where both the team and the player are awful right now), Holland added former Ottawa franchise player Daniel Alfredsson to the right wing.
There are plenty who argue that bringing in Alfredsson makes this team a win now and forget everything later type team. No. This team is not a contender, but for those arguing that it is, remember that it's only November.
Centering the second line of Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson is supposed to be a perennial 50+ point scorer and Filppula's undisputed replacement, Stephen Weiss. However, with a lull in production coming from that half of the top six, Alfredsson has moved down to the third line, Franzen has been scratched, and Abdelkader has been put in place along with Daniel Cleary. Meanwhile, Stephen Weiss is still in his scheduled spot.
First, the ugly.
Stephen Weiss has scored a grand total of two goals and one assist, good for three points in fifteen games. Fifteen. Meanwhile down in Tampa Bay, the five million dollar man has nine points in thirteen games. Stephen Weiss doesn't sound like much of an upgrade then, does he?
For those who want to look for advanced stats as their reasoning, Filppula actually has a better CF% by about 5% (not incredibly minute, either). So, Filppula is a better possession player. What magnifies this problem even more is that Filppula is a middle of the road possession player (10th on the Lightning), while Stephen Weiss is at the bottom of the list. Yes, Stephen Weiss, when put on a list with all 15 players on the Red Wings who have dressed for 12 or more games this season, is dead last in possession numbers.
Stats are useless to some people, sure, but the fact of the matter is the Red Wings play a possession game and have been in the top 5-10 teams in possession numbers for the last decade plus.
There is good news, right?
Well, sort of. Stephen Weiss has never been a phenomenal possession player, nor has Valtteri Filppula. When the Wings brought in Stephen Weiss, it was not to be the next Datsyuk, Zetterberg, or chief blue liner. He was brought in to dig pucks out of the corner, give good looks, and score garbage goals. However, he has struggled to do all three so far, and the weight of his contract does not help out his cause (nor does the stronger play of Andersson or the return of Darren Helm).
Alright, tell me what's wrong.
A lot if it in all likelihood has a lot to do with the fact that Weiss is coming off of a season plagued by a wrist injury. That is an injury that is hard to overcome in any sport. This is something that goes back to the beginning of last season when many were also talking about his lack of production as a Panther.
He has been in a funk for a while, and on top of that, the Wings are much different than the Panthers.
I know it sounds cliched, but there really is nothing to say other than this is a player who needs some time to get used to a system and find his groove again. Players have bad years and terrible injuries.
It does not help either that he happens to be stuck either between Danny Cleary or a sleeping Johan Franzen with either a slower veteran on his other side or Justin Abdelkader. He will be okay in time, he just needs a boost. Whether that's more time on the powerplay between Zetterberg and Datsyuk or some more practice, we have yet to see.
Let's just hope that Stephen hasn't lost a step.
Stats courtesy of Extra Skater