Stephen Weiss done for season with wrist injury, likely done as a Panther

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Last season Weiss had 20 goals and 37 assists for Florida. (Getty Images)
Last season Weiss had 20 goals and 37 assists for Florida. (Getty Images)

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Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss has had a really tough start to the season and he's not going to get the chance to turn it around before it ends because his season is done over.

At Tuesday morning's pregame skate in Florida, Weiss was conspiculously missing from the ice. Some joked he's been missing all season. GM Dale Tallon soon announced to reporters that Weiss requires surgery on his wrist and his season is over.

This is a massive blow to the Panthers. First of all, when Weiss is on his game, he's one of Florida's best players. He has been a solid, underrated player for them for many seasons even though this year he was just never going right. In 17 games he had one goal and three assists to go with a minus-13 rating. It was rough.

On top of all that, Weiss mised some time to attend the funeral of his grandmother who just died. So things haven't gone Weiss' way at all.

But this is a bigger blow for Florida than just him being out for the rest of this season. In all likelihood the Panthers aren't going anywhere this season anyway so it's not the biggest loss.

What it does do, though, is damage Florida's options, specifically the one about trading Weiss. His contract is up at the end of this season and Weiss has said he didn't want to discuss an extension during the season. That left Florida in the position of deciding whether or not to trade Weiss at the deadline, something that looked like it was increasing in likelihood by the day. You can forget that now.

This means that now the Panthers are likely to watch Weiss walk away in free agency come this summer. He's been with the Panthers since they drafted him No. 4 overall in the 2001. He's been through mostly all bad times, but was part of the team that broke the NHL's longest playoff drought last season when the Panthers won the division. He still could return to the team but at this point it doesn't seem likely, typically when players don't negotiate during the season that's the end result, they leave.

Weiss wasn't likely to command a massive return at the trade deadline, particularly with the way he was playing this season, but he has shown before he is still a top-six center and we know that teams will pay for those types of players. He was shaping up to be a nice trade chip for the Panthers.

Now, assuming that Weiss' time in Florida is done, all the Panthers can possibly hope for is to trade his contract rights before free agency opens this summer.

It's a tough break for everybody involved. Last season everything seemed to go right for the Panthers. This season, nothing is going right.

Then again, this might help the Panthers in their quest for the top overall draft pick this summer, so if you want a silver lining, there you go.

UPDATE: Tallon said that Weiss' wrist has been bothering him all season, potentialy helping to explain the awful start for him. He then went on to give updates on the rest of the Panthers' injury ward.

That would be: Jose Theodore out 4-6 weeks, Mike Weaver out a month, Dmitry Kulikov out a month, Scottie Upshall out 7-10 days, Ed Jovanoski is out for another 1-2 weeks and Kris Versteeg is day to day. That doesn't even mention Sean Bergenheim who hasn't played a game this year and isn't likely to.

The Panthers have a ton of youth, now is the time they show it off.

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