Prior to Stephen Weiss‘ two-goal performance against the Ottawa Senators last night, Mlive’s Ansar Khan penned a note that shouldn’t be a surprise but is nonetheless a little interesting.
Weiss has played just one game for the Red Wings this season. It’s important that he plays regularly the rest of the season. They need to determine if he can contribute offensively and perform like the player he was in Florida.
If he can’t, they’re not going to keep his $4.95 million salary on their cap for the next three seasons, they’ll use a regular buyout on him in June, reducing their cap hit considerably.
That’s quite the statement. Not just that Weiss would be a buyout target, that he for certain will be bought out if he doesn’t justify his contract.
Less defined, though, is whether or not he “can contribute offensively.”
I don’t think anyone expects Weiss to score two goals a game from here on out. Last night was an awesome, well-timed outburst of scoring from him, not the start of a trend. That said, if we’re not expecting multi-goal games for the rest of the season, what are we expecting from him?
Is .71 points-per-game, his level from his last healthy season, acceptable? That’s what he was signed to provide.
He replaced Daniel Cleary in the lineup last night, does he just need to replace the .15 points-per-game that were good enough to get Cleary a contract for this year?
Some of that depends on how he ends up being used. In Florida, Weiss was a top-line player. Last night, he was in Cleary’s third-line spot.
That was with Pavel Datsyuk out of the lineup. With Datsyuk back, is there even a spot in the top six for Weiss to earn? Weiss may be in a Catch-22 here, needing top-six situations to put up the production expected from him but not being able to earn those minutes while playing on the third line.
He may be a perfectly adequate third-liner but in the salary cap world, you don’t pay a third-liner $4.95 million.
Are Weiss’ days with Detroit numbered? I don’t know. Given his paycheck, though, it looks like he’s facing an uphill battle.