DETROIT – The Wings got their second line center they coveted when free agency began.
Former Florida Panther Stephen Weiss will be spending the next five seasons in Detroit after agreeing to reportedly a five-year deal worth $4.9 million a season.
With the signing, Weiss in all likelihood could center the second line with another newcomer Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Zetterberg.
That would make the top line consist of Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Justin Abedelkader.
Weiss, 30, was on the top on the Wings’ second line center shopping list.
Weiss, who played for the Plymouth Whalers, had spent his entire career with the Florida Panthers where he’s their all-time leader in games played.
Weiss made $4.1 million last season.
He was the fourth overall pick by the Panthers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
Weiss, who has only played in the playoffs once in his career, does lack size (5-foot-11, 190 pounds), but has an offensive upside, scoring 20 or more goals four times in the past seven seasons. He’s also stronger in faceoffs compared to Ribeiro.
He missed the final 26 games last season with a wrist injury.
In 654 career games he has 145 goals and 249 assists.
Early in Weiss’ career he was referred to as “Weisserman” because of his similarities to former Wings captain Steve Yzerman.
Weiss, like Alfredsson, will have to face his former team four or five times next season with at least two of the meetings taking place in Florida.
Detroit jumps to the Eastern Conference next season to compete in a yet-to-be-named division with the Panthers, Ottawa, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Buffalo and Tampa Bay.
The Wings never closed the door on having Valtteri Filppula return, but with the signing of Weiss that meant his days in Detroit were over.
“I haven’t thought about (leaving Detroit), but obviously it’s a possibly that could happen,” Filppula said during the Wings’ end-of-season locker cleanout. “It’d be tough. It’s been a really great place to be. I’ve been so happy here. We’ll see if we go … if that’s what’s going to happen.”
The Wings did make offers to Filppula in August and September before talks broke down.
Filppula, who made $3 million last season, is believed to be asking for about a $2 million raise a year.
The Wings also had some interest in centers Mike Ribeiro, Matt Cullen and Mikhail Grabovski.