“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the Detroit Red Wings, we pick…new center Stephen Weiss.
The Wings picked up Weiss in free agency and gave him $24.5 million over five years. They did this despite the fact the 30-year-old played just 17 games last season for the Florida Panthers, scoring only once with three assists. (A wrist injury that required surgery caused him to miss 26 games.)
Weiss has, however, produced throughout most of his NHL career, registering 394 points in 654 games, all with the Panthers, who drafted him fourth overall in 2011.
Ideally, his addition was to allow Wings head coach Mike Babcock to play superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the team’s top line, with Weiss holding down the No. 2 center spot.
“I look to run the offense,” Weiss said, per the Macomb Daily. “Whether that’s driving the middle and kicking it out and going to the net or being the shooter or whatever. We have to score some goals and help out the top guys that way. Whether that’s 5-on-5 or power play, we have to find a way to be productive offensively.”
To whom much is given, much is expected. And we’re not just talking about the money here. In Detroit, Weiss will be given the opportunity to skate with wingers like Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen, two players who’ve shown over their careers that they can put the puck in the net. If they don’t do that with Weiss, the blame could easily turn to the guy who’s tasked with setting them up.
Also remember, he’s in Detroit now; not sleepy Sunrise, Florida. Which is to say, however he’s playing, he will hear about it. From fans. From media. The entire league watches what’s going on in Hockeytown.
“I’m looking forward to the pressure of playing in that type of market,” Weiss said upon signing. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done it, but I’m hungry to be a part of that type of situation again. I think my game will thrive.”
Meanwhile, Valtteri Filppula is drawing some pretty rave reviews in Tampa Bay.
For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.