Top Ten Panther Players Of 2011-2012. Number 5
Not only is he the longest tenure Florida Panther on the current roster, he is arguably the most popular player on the team, he is the heart and soul of the Panthers, and now entering his ninth full season with the team, number nine is looking to have yet another fantastic season as a Panther. So without further a due, I present to you, Stephen Weiss.
Game Winning Goals: 6
Being drafted in the first round of any draft is a proud accomplishment; however, it also brings a lot of extra added pressure. When a team drafts you in the first round, the expectations for you to perform at an All-Star level is higher than ever. Of course the chances that you will be spending your first season in the AHL are high, but once you are ready to make the next step and play in the NHL the team that drafted you expects you to be productive. The same goes for Stephen Weiss. The Panthers used their fourth overall pick in the 2001 Draft to select him. With the pressure to perform at an all-time high, Weiss came out his rookie year and immediately showed he was worthy of such a high draft pick. His rookie season was a good one, scoring 21 points in 77 games. From there he only continued to improve. In just 50 games the following season, Weiss recorded 29 points, scoring 12 goals. During the lockout of 04-05, Weiss spent time in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage and the Chicago Wolves, in order to continue to work on his game. When the lockout was finally over, Weiss was entering his third NHL season with the expectations continuously increasing. Unfortunately for Weiss the 05-06 season did not go the way he wanted it to. Weiss was sidelined for a good portion of the season with a wrist injury and in the 41 games he did play, he recorded just 21 points.
Fast forward to the 08-09 season. For Weiss, this was his best season as a professional, setting a career high in assist and in points, with 47 assists and a total of 61 points. Unfortunately the love affair with Weiss and the Panthers didn’t last long. After seeing a major drop in production, Stephen Weiss became the center of trade rumors. With the Panthers going through yet another rebuilding stage, Weiss was unsure of his status with that Panthers. Fortunately, Weiss didn’t get traded and the next season, which was the previous season, the Panthers organization saw the return of the Stephen Weiss that they drafted.
Although last season wasn’t statistically his best season as a pro, if you ask him which season was his best, he would probably say last year. Almost everything went right for Weiss last season. On Feburary 23, 2012, Weiss set the Florida Panthers franchise record for most games played as a Panther at 614. Not only did he achieve this great feat, but he also ended his streak for most career games without a playoff appearance at 637. The former captain was finally in the playoffs. Once he was in the playoffs, Weiss made sure he made the most of every opportunity. In the 2011-2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Weiss was tied for first on the team with most goals scored at three and was tied for second for most points scored at five. Despite being knocked out in the first round, the experience that was gained was priceless. With the playoff monkey finally off of Weiss’s back, I believe he will come back and have a career year, of course that is whenever this stupid lockout is over. Until then it’s just a waiting game for Weiss. Despite the work stoppage, Weiss hasn’t signed with a team from overseas, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does while we all just wait out this long and horrific process.
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