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NHL rumors: Panthers could trade pending UFA Stephen Weiss

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com
Stephen Weiss has one assist in three games this season. (Getty Images)

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For the Florida Panthers, Stephen Weiss is about the only example of a long-time Cat after Dale Tallon came in and revamped the roster. Almost every old face was not kept -- with one exception being Weiss, who finally made it to the playoffs last season.

Tallon gave Weiss the opportunity to leave before last season, but he decided to stick it out with the Panthers and was rewarded with a playoff berth. He was a candidate to be named the Panthers captain before it was handed to veteran Ed Jovanovski. Point is, he's the closest thing there is to a Mr. Panther on the roster.

Still, he could be on his way out the door before this season ends. A UFA after this season, Weiss has made it clear that he will not negotiate an extension during the season. Couple that with the Panthers' early-season struggles and Weiss could be joining another team by season's end.

There is talk C Stephen Weiss, a UFA on July 1, will be gone before the deadline because the Panthers don't have the cash to sign him

Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun

There would likely be plenty of suitors for Weiss if that comes to be. We hear every year at the trade deadline how hard top-six centers are to find, and he fits the bill. Weiss doesn't put up huge offensive numbers, but he's a solid two-way center who is certainly capable offensively.

The Panthers are in a similar situation to where they were with Jay Bouwmeester a few years ago, unsure if he would re-sign should he hit the open market. The Panthers rolled the dice then and hung onto Bouwmeester in an attempt to make the playoffs. They just missed and Bouwmeester's rights were traded to Calgary in the summer. It's a different group in Florida's front office now but surely they know the risks and potential rewards in this scenario.

Weiss' current contract is a relative bargain. He carries a cap hit of just $3.1 million, certainly not bad for a 29-year-old with 391 career points.

Since the Panthers took Weiss fourth overall in the 2001 draft, he has 144 goals and 247 assists in 640 games. He's currently out for a short amount of time due to a lower-body injury.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @StubitsCBS on Twitter, subscribe to our YouTube account and like us on Facebook.

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