DETROIT -- It's still too early to call the Stephen Weiss signing a bust, according to Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.
Weiss, who will see a specialist in Philadelphia on Friday about his injured groin, has two goals and four points in 26 games for Detroit since signing a contract this past summer for a reported five years and $24.5 million.
"I don't care what sport you are, when you look at an athlete you look at what they've accomplished over a period of time," Holland said after Detroit's morning skate Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. "Every athlete probably has one year that's way better than the norm and one year worse than the norm, but there's a lot of statistics that are somewhat similar. When you look at the book on Weiss, it says 48 points five of the last seven years."
Weiss made his NHL debut in 2001-02 with the Florida Panthers by playing seven games and spent parts of the next 10 seasons with that franchise, totaling 145 goals and 394 points in 654 regular-season games.
In 2011-12 Weiss helped the Panthers qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs by putting up 20 goals and 57 points in 80 games. Last season, a wrist injury limited him to 17 games; he finished with one goal, three assists and a minus-13 rating.
Holland is betting that last season's results plus the start of this season are all part of Weiss' "worse than normal" career chart.
"He's 30, not 36," Holland said. "Do I think he can be that [48-point] guy? Yeah. I don't have any reason to think why he can't be that guy. [He's] got to get healthy and confidence is a factor."
Weiss signed with the Red Wings as an unrestricted free agent July 1 to take over former Detroit forward Valtteri Filppula's role at second-line center.
Battling a groin issue in training camp Weiss got off to a slow start and was sidelined for six games in November when the injury flared up. He returned to the lineup in a diminished role, playing mostly on the fourth line, and had one assist in nine games before the groin injury came back.
Detroit's game Thursday against the Calgary Flames will be the fifth straight Weiss will miss and Holland sounded like it could take quite a bit longer for him to return. It depends on what the specialist says.
"[We've] got to get him healthy," Holland said. "We want him to be a factor this year. Hopefully he doesn't need surgery, but if he does need surgery let's have surgery. We need him. He's an important part of what we're trying to do. We're trying to get him healthy. It doesn't appear that he's going to skate anytime soon."
As for the big contract, Holland isn't ready to call it a failure.
"We like the signing," he said. "For a variety of reasons it hasn't worked out the way we both had hoped, but it's a five-year contract. You see lots of times where a guy has a down year and the next year they bounce back."
Holland also gave some updates on other injured Red Wings players. Captain Henrik Zetterberg, who participated in the morning skate, is doing "very good" in his recovery from a herniated disc in his back that's held him out eight straight games.
"He'll be ready to go the 28th [against the Panthers]," Holland said.
Goalie Jimmy Howard skated on his own again, this time wearing his leg pads. The Red Wings hope to have him back in net sometime between Dec. 30 (against the Nashville Predators) and Jan. 4 (against the Dallas Stars). That means Howard's status for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium remains up in the air.
Rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser (shoulder) could return within the next couple games. Forward Justin Abdelkader (concussion) skated for the second straight day and also could return within in the next couple games.
Forward Johan Franzen (concussion) won't return until sometime after the Christmas break, forward Gustav Nyquist (groin) is day-to-day and center Darren Helm (shoulder) hopes to return in time to play against the Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic.
Detroit also recalled veteran forward Jordin Tootoo on Wednesday to play right wing on the fourth line. That move sent veteran Mikael Samuelsson to the healthy scratch list. Jonas Gustavsson will get the start in net against the Flames as the Red Wings aim to break a five-game winless streak at Joe Louis Arena.
Calgary coach Bob Hartley juggled his top line combinations a bit in the Flames' morning skate, hoping to get a little more offensive production following a 2-0 loss Tuesday against the Boston Bruins.
"I think it was time for a change," said Mike Cammalleri, who was scratched against the Bruins after posting just one point (an assist) since scoring his last goal Nov. 30 against the Los Angeles Kings. "We need to get some things going a little better on both sides of the puck and sometimes I just think a change is necessary. It was definitely time for a change for us."
As for the Red Wings' recent struggles, the Flames won't get lulled into a false sense of security. They're sixth in the Pacific Division with 31 points and 13th in the Western Conference.
"First and foremost, we're not in first place right now so we've got enough to concern ourselves with in our own group," Cammelleri said. "Second of all, it's tough to even think about the Detroit Red Wings in that context. Even if they'd lost 20 in a row we'd still be coming in here thinking, 'We're playing the Red Wings,' so I don't think you have time to think about them struggling. It's always going to take your best to beat the Wings."
Karri Ramo is set to get the start in net for Calgary.
Here is how the Flames and Red Wings could line up Thursday:
Curtis Glencross - Matt Stajan - Lee Stempniak
Paul Byron - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler
Mike Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - David Jones
Lance Bouma - Joe Colborne - Brian McGrattan
Kris Russell - TJ Brodie
Mark Giordano - Ladislav Smid
Chris Butler - Shane O'Brien
Scratched: Blair Jones, TJ Galiardi, Christopher Breen
Injured: Dennis Wideman (fractured hand)
Tomas Jurco - Pavel Datsyuk - Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller - Joakim Andersson - Tomas Tatar
Daniel Cleary - Luke Glendening - Patrick Eaves
Todd Bertuzzi - Riley Sheahan - Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey - Brendan Smith
Jakub Kindl - Brian Lashoff
Scratched: Mikael Samuelsson
Injured: Henrik Zetterberg (back), Johan Franzen (concussion), Justin Abdelkader (concussion), Jimmy Howard (knee sprain), Gustav Nyquist (groin), Stephen Weiss (groin), Danny DeKeyser (shoulder), Darren Helm (shoulder)