Hockey’s Future profiles Stephen Weiss

By Mark Fischel

Of all the players drafted this year, Stephen Weiss might have been the most complete and well-rounded of the top players. Blessed with natural offensive instincts and a solid scoring touch around the net, Stephen makes his teammates better due to his unselfish play and very good hockey sense. Former Whalers Asst. Coach Steve Spott on his star center “Stephen Competes very hard, He doesn’t put himself in awkward positions on the ice, he is very intelligent that way.” To go with the natural instincts, Weiss is an effortless skater with excellent speed, acceleration and can outskate and outplay his opponents in one-on-one situations.

Stephen’s smaller stature might have been the only thing keeping him back from going higher in the draft, but Stephen doesn’t let his average size hold him back in all ends of the ice “The offensive Stuff is god-given, and he (Stephen) can do that anyways, but he has made a conscious decision to play well defensively, and that is why he is such a complete player.” This effort to play in all zones and be considered a threat whenever he is on the ice, is what made Stephen stand out to the Panthers as well. Stephen is a good fore-checker and will put the team ahead of personal statistics.

While he excelled in the OHL in faceoffs, it becomes a different skill altogether in the NHL, According to Steve Spott “In junior hockey, sometimes, you get in a habit where the importance of faceoffs aren’t stressed enough. That is something he will have to continue to work on and technically he is very good, but along with his strengths, he has got to win the faceoffs to gain possession of the puck. An area he can continue to focus and work on.”. Along with that, Weiss is making a concerted effort in other areas, “biggest goal during the summer is to put on 10-15 pounds of good weight, in his legs. He is a naturally strong kid that is difficult to knock of the puck. If there is one thing to continually improve on, most young players need to get stronger physically, to be able to compete against players on that level.”

With the number of centers on the current roster, there isn’t one that can truly be considered a 2nd line center. Coming into training camp, Panther coach Duane Sutter is not ruling out Wiess in that position this upcoming year, and Steve Spott agrees “I think he is ready to make the jump intelligence wise. If Duane feels comfortable putting him on the ice and knowing that he wont be a liability defensively, than I definitely think he is smart enough to play there”. It is very possible that Weiss makes the team right out of camp, especially if he bulks up some more and works on his faceoff skills.

Over the long run, Weiss is projected at developing into a top-line center who can bring the complete set of tools to the ice every night. The comparisons to Yzerman and Sakic might be burdening him down to some, but he is projected to play the same type of role that those established stars do their respective teams. When a team has a chance to grab a player that plays well in all ends and possesses upper echelon skills at an young age, Panther fans will be in for a treat watching Stephen Weiss try to earn those comparisons.

This profile is from the Panthers team page.