Toronto Maple Leafs Reportedly Looking to Acquire Stephen Weiss

Brad LeClairCorrespondent IJune 17, 2013

Feb. 3, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA;  Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss (9) and Buffalo Sabres center Cody Hodgson (19) waits for the official to drop the puck for a faceoff during the third period at First Niagara Center.  Panthers beat the Sabres 4 to 3.  Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

According to columnist Elliotte Friedman, the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking at acquiring the rights to Stephen Weiss ahead of free agency opening on July 5th.

The Toronto native has played all of his 11 NHL seasons with the Florida Panthers and would instantly bring the Leafs a 60-point center with a fair deal of experience.

With the Leafs reportedly after Weiss, this all but means Tyler Bozak is on his way out of town. Since has Mikhail Grabovski's contract at $5.5 million per year, Bozak will probably be looking for around as much.

The Leafs don't agree with that assessment, so it appears they are playing hardball with Bozak. Drop your demands or we move on.

With numerous rumors regarding the Leafs going after a center, it wouldn't surprise me to see them sign Weiss instead of caving into Bozak's contract demands.

Weiss is very similar to Bozak in many ways, except for the fact that he's a left-handed shot. That attribute lends itself nicely to making passes to a streaking right winger named Phil Kessel.

In 654 career games with the lowly Panthers, Weiss has scored 145 goals and totalled 394 points. He's also a minus-17 for his career. That includes a 17-game season this year with a minus-13 rating. For how bad the Panthers are, Weiss being a career minus-four prior to 2013 is pretty impressive.

With him winning draws over the past few seasons at better than a 52 percent clip, you aren't losing much at all in the faceoff circle with Weiss either.

In defence of Bozak, Kessel has been pretty consistent with or without a left-handed center, so the need for one is probably minimal.

The Panthers want to re-sign Weiss, so this begs the question: do the Leafs risk trading an asset to acquire his rights when there are questions surrounding whether he wants to move?

It's worked for Philadelphia (Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen) and Dallas (Sergei Gonchar).

At the end of the CBC video, the panel spoke about a Claude Giroux extension. For that to happen, it's likely the Flyers will be using buyouts on Ilya Bryzgalov and Daniel Briere. If they do, you can add Briere to the long list of free-agent veteran centers available July 5th.

Do the Leafs trade for Weiss' rights as long as the asset isn't a part of the future? Do the Leafs wait it out and hope to sign him come July 5th? Do the Leafs look at another player such as Briere, Mike Ribeiro or someone else?


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