No doubt about it, Stephen Weiss was Detroit's top free agent acquisition one year ago. He was a player who came highly regarded by management, and at the time the fans.
It was only two seasons ago that the 31 year old Toronto-native center was a consistent 20 goal scorer for an inferior NHL squad in the Florida Panthers.. What the hell happened? After reading reports all summer-long, I think we all get the notion that Stephen signed his contract with an ailing injury. We know the stats, 4 points in 26 games, undoubtedly the worst player as far as fancy stats go. Weiss spent the rest of the season on LTIR, and finally had surgery performed to repair his core. I'm a bit nervous, mostly because these core injuries are so nagging and sometimes never-ending. However, I am setting the bar for Weiss. As a fan, and a person who covers the team here at WiiM: Weiss needs to put up at least 40 points this year in order to convince me that he isn't a bust.
Take away his injury, and give him, let's say, 70 games last season.. How different does that make the Wings playoff picture look? I say probably a lot differently. But thankfully, his injury gave Riley Sheahan his chance to shine.
My friend Paige from Panther Parkway, a pretty darn good Florida Panthers blog, answered some questions for me about Stephen Weiss and his tenure with the Panthers.
Fans were really ticked off when we let him go. He spent his entire career with this team, so he was super loved.
Never got past the 60 point mark. He was good at what he did. Created plays, created space. Good solid 2nd line C. (Although he played 1st)
He was a huge reason Panthers went to playoffs 3 seasons ago. He played on a line with Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann. It was a great line. Possession wise, it was not a good line. Points wise, it was.
He's a really good dude though. Lived and breathed Florida. He won't score a lot. If he stays healthy he can get you 20 goals, maybe 40-45 points.
So, with that being said.. I think Weiss will have better linemates on the second line here in Detroit than he had on the first line in Florida. Names that come to mind are Johan Franzen, and Gustav Nyquist. That's three players with 20 goal potential. Important to note that 40-50 points is ideal for a second line center, in my opinion of course. My concern, Weiss has been acclaimed to be a bit of a lazy player at times, much like how Johan Franzen can be. My fear is that the combo of the two wouldn't be as impressive as it should be.
The diggers have reported that Weiss is 'ready to roll' for training camp. He might have the most attention from me out of all players at training camp. The Red Wings haven't had a solid 2nd line center in some time, and I hope like hell that it's time that it changes.
The key for Weiss, is knowing when to "take it easy." When it comes to strength and conditioning, Red Wings' Pete Renzetti has been known to be a fair advocate of Crossfit training. As a guy coming off a major core-repairing surgery, I think Weiss should be wary of this sort of training. It's extremely strenuous to the body's core. I'd rather him tip-toe through the tulips when it comes to rebuilding his strength. I know he claims to be 100%, but he hasn't exactly bought that sort of trust from me as a fan.
Am I positive that Stephen Weiss will bounce back? Not really. Am I optimistic for his return? I would call it 'cautious optimism' before anything. It solely depends on how he has treated his rehab in the offseason. Stephen is a good player when healthy. I will be keeping a close eye on him when Training Camp starts up. But the fact of the matter is, he's in the hot seat with fans, and with management.