What do Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Spezza, Mikko Koivu, Pascal Leclaire and Ales Hemsky have in common with Stephen Weiss?
If you guessed that they were all first round draft choices in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, you are correct.
Weiss was selected 4th overall by the Florida Panthers.
Kovalchuk was selected first overall by Atlanta, Spezza second by the Ottawa Senators, Koivu sixth by the Minnesota Wild, Leclaire eighth by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Hemsky thirteenth by the Edmonton Oilers.
What is even more interesting is that, with the exception of Kovalchuk and Koivu, it is quite possible that all of these players could be traded this season by this seasons NHL trade deadline.
To focus on Weiss, he has appeared in over 500 games as a Panther. He has a unique quality of being a dependable two-way center while contributing offensively. He has from time to time not played up to his potential and at other times has had to carry the offensive load for the Panthers.
Leading the Panthers with 33 points in 48 games entering the All-Star break, Weiss has lead the Panthers in scoring the last two seasons picking up the slack left behind by the departure of longtime Panther Olli Jokinen.
Unfortunately, Weiss has never played in the Stanley Cup play-offs.
Not overly physical, Weiss relies on his quick acceleration and hockey smarts. Weiss is four years into a six-year, $18.6M contract he signed in 2008. He also has a no movement clause, basically being able to accept or veto any move presented to him.
With Panthers currently sitting on the outside of the Eastern Conference play-off picture, seven points behind division rival Atlanta for the eight and final play-off spot, Weiss is looking more and more like he will continue his streak of post seasons missed.
Should he miss again this season it will be six seasons and counting for Weiss.
With Panthers general manager Dale Tallon ushering in a re-building mentality, it appears that Tallon is looking to make big roster changes.
Tallon was seen recently with Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier prior to last nights game in Montreal. Could there be a trade involving Weiss?
While arguments could be made for a re-building team to keep your first line center and leading scorer, the Panthers seemed willing to look at all options to improve, including moving players out between now and the NHL trade deadline on February 28th for a fresh approach.
No doubt that Tallon was brought in to make changes, so the likelihood of the changes occurring could happen over the next 24 days— between now and the trade deadline.
Here are 10 potential new homes for Stephen Weiss.