NHL Trade Deadline 2011: The Case For Stephen Weiss

The run up to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline has been a crazy mixture of runaway speculation and quick denials and big moves. The Maple Leafs have been a catalyst of the moves starting with the Francois Beauchemin trade that saw the Leafs pick up Joffrey Lupul, prospect Jake Gardiner, and a conditional pick. Burke followed that up by shipping Kris Versteeg to Philadelphia for a first and a third round pick. That one was a slightly more contentious move. Finally, over a week ago, Brian Burke had his price for Tomas Kaberle met as the Bruins paid Joe Colborne, a first round pick, and a conditional second round pick. It was, for a fanbase that had been waiting two years for this trade, harder than expected.

Brian Burke has already done so much in the lead up to today's deadline. He has been vocal in a number of respects. Last night he noted that he would entertain offers for Clarke MacArthur, he has been linked to John-Michael Liles, Peter Stastny, Brad Richards, and basically any player available. That's what happens when you say that you have assets in your shopping cart. But the most important thing that Brian Burke has said is in regard to his ultimate plan:

The game plan and the blueprint has never changed.

- Brian Burke

Junior wrote a hell of a piece that you all should read that looks at how the recent moves fit into the overarching plan that Brian Burke has implemented: Get younger players with more potential, bring in vets to mentor them, accumulate assets, evaluate them, and repeat as necessary to build (hopefully) a championship contender. Whether Burke ultimately uses any of the draft picks that he has compiled will largely depend on how the day plays out. He's said that he wants to bring in players to help a group that has worked so hard to put itself into the playoff race but he won't do it at the expense of the future. However, if he wants to do something to address the team's need for another top centre to complement Mikhail Grabovski: trade for Stephen Weiss

The Florida Panthers, a cautionary tale to every fan that thinks that simply losing and accumulating draft picks are the key to success, is headed to yet another year out of the playoffs as Dale Tallon looks to move out anything that's not nailed down. His efforts so far have been pretty spotty but it his assets under contract that could be most helpful in moving the club's plans forward. Where have we heard that before?

What will the Panthers get back: Weiss is signed for two more seasons and is a big part of the team. Unlike players with expiring contracts, the Panthers will not want more than draft picks back in any trade. Any deal that happens will look more like the recent deal that sent Michael Frolik to Chicago or the off-season deals that saw Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell traded to the Bruins and Keith Ballard traded to the Canucks than the recent deal the Senators made that sent Mike Fisher to the Nashville Predators.

- John Beatty, Litter Box Cats

SBN's Panthers blog has looked at all the team's assets as they enter their second decade of rebuilding. One that has caught the eye of others is Stephen Weiss. Obviously, it's hard to discern facts from speculation as even trusted sources can be in conflict. Weiss himself seems opposed to a deal and ultimately that probably means that no deal will be forthcoming especially as Tallon seems to think that good times are just around the corner. However, the latest rumours have Toronto as being the only destination he will consider.

Weiss has said he wants to continue to play here, only wants to be a Florida Panther. Does he deserve that?

Absolutely.This is a guy who deserves to see the fruits of where this is going to go. He's obviously been through the tough times and deserves to see the other side when we get there.

- George Richards, On Frozen Pond

I guess Dale doesn't read much about other teams. The attraction with Stephen Weiss is that he plays tough minutes and outscores his competition consistently. In addition to The Russian Machine Never Breaks' Neil Greenberg, who looked at Weiss as a possible target for the Capitals, Stephen Weiss has been a target for teh Copper And Blue's Derek Zona: 

Jonathan Willis has looked at the effects of playing in the Southeast, so there is the possibility that Weiss is racking up numbers against soft competition.  In 2007-2008 at even strength, Weiss' most common opponents were Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Ilya Kovalchuk, Brad Richards, Eric Staal, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Ray Whitney, Viktor Kozlov, and Vyacheslav Kozlov.  Weiss combined to outscore those ten opponents 21 GF - 18 GA at even strength.  His most common opponents in 2008-2009 were Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Vinny Prospal, Eric Staal, Tuomo Ruutu, Joffrey Lupul, Ray Whitney, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Sergei Samsonov.  Weiss combined to outscore these ten 12 GF 11 GA at even strength.

Over two years, Weiss outscored some of the best forwards in the league 33 GF - 29 GA

- Derek Zona, Copper and Blue

The most often used epithet thrown at the suggestion of acquiring Stephen Weiss is that he is Matt Stajan 2.0. Behind The Net has excellent player cards that allow you to see that in a number of important areas they differ. On Matt Stajan's card you can that he has benefitted from favourable zone starts even though his endings are not strong. On Stephen Weiss's player card you can see that he continually draws the tougher face-off assignments and gets the puck going in the right direction.

Weiss would join Mikhail Grabovski as a centre that can face tough competition. It would have the added benefit of moving Tyler Bozak down to the third line centre spot, if he's kept, in a defensive role where he's looked good. That makes the opposition have to decide which line to try to stop. Weiss also fits in the age range that Burke is trying to build around. He's also available at an unbelievable cap number of $3.1M. He's not a big bruising centre but he's good enough to give the Leafs time to see if Colborne turns into the behemoth centre that Burke desires. The sexy pick might be to go after Brad Richards this summer but as we've seen time and time again - putting aside the downside to picking him up - waiting for UFAs is a losing strategy. Burke may not be prepared to give up what the Panthers are asking for, in fact it seems that he has yet to put in an offer, but with so many assets in his cart he mght as well ask. Plus, he's from Toronto and Burke's gone

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