DETROIT – Stephen Weiss was the No. 2 center that the Red Wings coveted most as the 2013 free agency market opened on Friday.
It’s reported that the former Florida center has agreed to a five-year contract to head up north with the Red Wings.
With Valtteri Filppula testing the free agency waters, the Red Wings were looking for his replacement to take over the center spot on their second line. Weiss has the creativity and distribution skills to make his linemates better.
Another solid two-way center in the Red Wings’ mix, Weiss’s skill set should blend perfectly with the team’s puck-possession style. The Weiss acquisition also will allow coach Mike Babcock to keep Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together on the top line with winger Justin Abdelkader.
Detroit’s second line could perhaps feature Weiss in the middle between wingers Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson, who agreed to a one-year contract to leave Ottawa earlier in the day.
Weiss, the Panthers’ all-time franchise leader in games played (654) and assists (249) is coming back from wrist surgery last March. The injury undoubtedly contributed to his light numbers last season with only one goal on 19 shots in 17 games.
Weiss, 30, played three OHL seasons with the Plymouth Whalers in suburban Detroit. He led the Whalers in scoring in back-to-back seasons producing 87- and 70-point seasons in 2000-01 and 2001-02. The 5-foot-11 Toronto native was the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NHL draft.
Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves has played against Weiss, but suspects that the newcomer will need some time to get acclimated to his new surroundings.
“I know from my own experiences of going to a different team you’re not extremely comfortable right away,” Eaves said. “The guys here are great, even when I first walked in they were unbelievable. But it will be a new place for him, it’s life, and will take a little time. I just know that he’s a really good player.”
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