That "leap" was a large result of Garth Snow's smooth acquisitions during the offseason. Sure, John Tavares was the hero, but the Islanders would have done little more than their usual lottery-pick finish if it weren't for a few adjustments to the Islanders' bottom-six, which was atrocious in 2011-12. Garth Snow has some more work cut out for him this summer, though. The Islanders' line-up still has holes that need patching.
Yesterday, I touched upon the Islanders' need for a second-line centre in a continuation of Islanders Op-Timism's parody series, "Garth's Bag of Wishes." About two weeks ago, I alluded to my personal interest in signing Brad Richards, if bought out, to fill the roster's void.
Well, Garth Snow may have another option to close the second-line gap, and he will definitely be available come July 5th. Stephen Weiss has "Garth Snow signing" written all over him.
Stephen Weiss was expected to be one of the hottest commodities at this year's trade deadline. The 11-year veteran was, arguably, the most valuable player on the Panthers heading into this season, but only played 17 games before having to miss the rest of the 2013 season with wrist surgery. Now, the Panthers will [probably] lose their biggest asset over the past decade for nothing.
Like the Panthers, though, Weiss is also stuck in a messy situation. The proven NHLer now has something to prove. As mentioned, the Panthers' alternate captain did miss 31 games after having wrist surgery. Unfortunately for Weiss, though, the injury also came during the worst season of his career.
The lockout-shortened season wasn't kind to Weiss. The Panthers' all-time leader in games played was having his worst professional offensive season. Through 17 games, Weiss scored one lone goal, while adding three assists - good for four points. He also registered a -13 during his brief stint this season, which is rough for a player who was only a -4 through his first 637 NHL games.
Regardless, I'm sure Weiss will still look to cash in on his successful career this summer. The money that Weiss is looking for might not be there. Part of the reason has to do with the wrist injury. Part of it has to do with his "down" year. All of this has Garth Snow's full attention.
Weiss, who scored 57 points during the 2011-12 season and has reached the 60-point plateau twice in his career, is now a "reclamation project." Garth Snow loves "reclamation projects," so it is reasonable to think Weiss would be one of Garth's targets.
Why not? If Weiss cannot find the long-term deal he might be seeking, the Islanders could offer Weiss a chance to earn that deal. While he may never be part of the long-term future, the former fourth-overall draft pick could easily serve as a placeholder for a year or two while the Islanders buy some more time for their younger prospects to develop. He would also be a very attractive "placeholder," instantly making the Islanders a better team, providing he could stay healthy.
The second-line centre is able to play in all situations. Weiss is great on the power-play, a fantastic penalty-killer, and a good face-off man. As we saw down the stretch in 2013, the Islanders could use a boost in every on-ice situation.
I'm not going to say it's a sure thing, but I think the Islanders are very likely to be in play for the services of Stephen Weiss when he is set free on July 5th. The more I think about it, the more I like the sound of it. He could be a perfect fit on Long Island. And if it works out? Perhaps he can stay a little bit longer.
What are your thoughts on adding Stephen Weiss? Do you think there's a chance we could see him in blue and orange come October?
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!