How Stephen Weiss' Injury Will Impact the NHL Trade Deadline
The Florida Panthers announced on Tuesday that the 29-year-old center will miss the rest of the season after undergoing wrist surgery.
#FlaPanthers GM Dale Tallon just announced that Weiss will have season ending wrist surgery.— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 5, 2013
Unfortunately for the Panthers, they may lose Weiss as an unrestricted free agent in the summer. The ideal situation would have been to trade him and not risk him leaving the team for nothing in the offseason, but that doesn't seem like a possibility right now.
With the chance to earn a large, long-term contract on the free-agent market and play for a Stanley Cup contender, it would be surprising if Weiss stayed with the Panthers beyond this season.
There are a number of playoff contenders that should add another forward before the trade deadline, including the Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators. With that said, there will be plenty of buyers at the deadline, but the chances of there being an equal amount of sellers is probably not as high.
With Weiss no longer an option for teams looking for a veteran forward who can score goals and serve as a playmaker, the trade value of a few other players will probably go up.
Here's a list of forwards who could be valued more now that Weiss' 2013 season is over.
|Corey Perry||ANA||RW||Upcoming UFA ||As the best scorer who could be available, expect plenty of teams to consider making a move for Perry, who is a franchise-cornerstone type of player.
|Ryan Getzlaf||ANA||C||Upcoming UFA ||It doesn't seem likely that Getzlaf will leave Anaheim, but he is the top center eligible for free agency this summer as an elite two-way forward and a great leader.
|Brenden Morrow||DAL||LW||Upcoming UFA ||As an experienced player who can provide a team with toughness, penalty killing and scoring depth, don't be surprised if there's lots of interest in the Stars captain.
|Mike Ribeiro||WSH||C||Upcoming UFA||If the Capitals fall out of the playoff race, they may look to trade Ribeiro because teams will need center depth for the playoffs. He's having a great 2013 season thus far.
RW ||Upcoming UFA ||The Flames captain will have to be traded if he wants to win a Stanley Cup, but he has been one of the most loyal players in the league for a long time. He's still a top winger at age 35.|
|Jaromir Jagr||DAL||RW||Upcoming UFA||If Dallas falls out of the playoff race, Jagr might become available. He would be a good third-line winger on a contending team that needs additional scoring.|
|Ryan Clowe||SJS||LW||Upcoming UFA ||Clowe has not played well this year, but he would add a lot of toughness and grit to a contending team's roster.|
|Valtteri Filppula||DET||LW||Upcoming UFA||Filppula is a talented top-six winger who can score 20-plus goals in a full season. If the Red Wings don't think he will re-sign in the summer, they may look to trade him.|
|Tyler Bozak||TOR||C||Upcoming UFA||If Toronto doesn't think it can re-sign Bozak in the summer, they could move him to a Western Conference team for a draft pick. Nazem Kadri's impressive play this season might make it easier for the Leafs to move Bozak.|
|Paul Stastny||COL||C||Eligible for UFA in 2014||Stastny has failed to live up to expectations since the 2009-10 season. He is one of the most overpaid players in the league, but he would still be a good No. 2 or 3 center on a contending team.|
|Ales Hemsky||EDM||RW||Eligible for UFA in 2014||If the Oilers fall out of the playoff race, which is likely, they could consider trading Hemsky to a contender that needs a winger with offensive skill for a second or third line role.|
As you can see from the chart above, there probably won't be a lot of top-six centers who could be traded as "rentals" for teams that need a boost for the playoff race, or an extra piece for a Stanley Cup run.
Which center should teams covet the most before the trade deadline?
This means that Weiss' absence from the trade market is a major setback for a lot of teams.
One player who a lot of teams could be interested in now is Ribeiro.
The Capitals star has 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 21 games this season, and since Ribeiro is in the final year of his contract, Washington would be smart to move him before the deadline if he wants to test the open market in July.
Another center who could bolster a lot of teams for a deep playoff run is Stastny. The Avalanche star tallied a career-high 79 points during the 2009-10 season, but he has scored just 57 and 53 points over the last two years.
Colorado has a lot of center depth, so it wouldn't be a huge surprise if Stastny is traded, even though his $6.5 million cap hit for this year and the 2013-14 season is not going to be attractive to a lot of teams.
The teams with top-six centers to dangle in the trade market will be impacted the most by Weiss' injury because now their player(s) will have more value, since there probably won't be too many of these forwards available at the deadline.
It will be interesting to see if teams are willing to meet these new valuations, especially when first-round picks are more valuable this season due to the fantastic depth and talent in the 2013 draft class.
Since there aren't any teams more than six points from a playoff spot in both conferences, don't expect the activity on the trade market to heat up for a few weeks. But with Weiss no longer an option for general managers looking to bolster their scoring depth, we could see teams make moves a little earlier than normal to ensure they don't lose out on their top targets.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs.
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