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It is clear that New York Rangers GM Glen Sather has Brad Richards atop his offseason wish list, but with every plan there must be a backup in case the plan falls through. According to Larry Brooks at the New York Post that fallback option could include 28-year-old center Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers.
Speaking of which: after watching Nathan Horton's breakout playoffs, who doesn't wonder who Stephen Weiss might play for if freed from the shackles of Sunrise, where the sun always sets on the hockey team?
Slats, perhaps, if Brad Richards can't be signed?
The idea of trading for Weiss is one that I looked at back in February before the trade deadline and the point about Horton’s breakout during the Stanley Cup playoffs this year is an interesting addition to the case for Weiss. Weiss is a slightly different case than Horton given him being older at the time of the move, but there is something to be said for playing with better talent around him and in more meaningful games.
Weiss is a quality NHL player who scored 21 goals and added 28 assists in 76 games this past season with the Panthers and their talent deficient lineup. Weiss has experience as a top line player and facing the best competition of the opposition each night, along with having a very reasonable contract set to pay him $3.1 million per for the next two seasons. His best attributes on the ice are his speed, vision and passing ability, but he is also able to score. It is tough to full gauge whether that is a result of the lack of overall talent in Florida or speaks to where Weiss actually is.
Beyond his offensive capabilities, Weiss is excellent on faceoffs, wining 53.9% of his draws, which would be a considerable upgrade for the Blueshirts. There are questions about whether Weiss is truly a number one type center on a contending team or better suited for a supporting role. There is also his no-movement clause that could allow him to block any move and he has said in the past that he wants to be part of the solution there.
With the lack of talent on the Florida roster and the cheap contract for what Weiss brings them it means the price tag to acquire him could be high.