Is Stephen Weiss Really A First-Line Center?

I’ve always been a huge fan of Stephen Weiss. The former first round pick always had a reputation of being a very underrated center in the league and someone who would thrive on a better team with a better supporting cast. Weiss is definitely a great player and you could say that he’s underrated because of where he plays but he has never been a point-per-game player in his career and where he ranks among other centers since the lock-out is not that impressive.

Weiss has been in the league for about nine seasons now and since the lockout, he has been averaging about .66 points per game. That puts him around the same company as Tomas Plekanec, Nik Antropov, Ryan Kesler, Travis Zajac and David Legwand. All great players but I would hard pressed to call any of them top first line centers in the league. He also ranked 46th among all of the centers that I sampled. Weiss is also 29 this coming season and most players enter their prime in their late 20’s, so if Weiss was in his “prime” two years ago then does that mean his 61-point campaign in 2008-09 will be his career high? If so, then I would have an even tougher time calling him a first line center. However, the bounces certainly were not going Weiss’ way last season so there could be some hope for him.

Year Corsi Rel QoC Shooting% Sv% PDO Corsi Rel. Corsi On OZ% OZ% Finish
2007-08 1.048 9.42% .931 1026 8.7 4.17 53% 50.4%
2008-09 0.544 10.53% .929 1034 12.4 1.53 45.5% 48.6%
2009-10 0.324 9.23% .915 1007 10.6 -4.39 47% 50.3%
2010-11 1.004 7.73% .907 907 0.1 0.66 47.6% 49.7%

This is where Gabe Desjardins’ Behind The Net stat site and player card tool comes in handy. 2008-10, Weiss had his best offensive seasons and he saw easier competition compared to 2007 and 2010. He was also better at driving possession in those yeas, too despite starting the majority of his shifts in his own zone. In 2010, he want back to seeing tougher competition and started the same amount of his shifts in his own zone so his assignments got a lot tougher and on top of that, his on-ice shooting percentage was the lowest it’s been in years. His boxcar stats as well as his corsi suffered from this. If things weren’t bad enough, one of his most frequent linemates, Michael Frolik, also had a down year (5.5% shooting percentage) so it wasn’t just him who was getting bad luck.

Now, this information shows that Weiss suffered from bad luck but he still has not shown that he can put up over 61 points in a season which tells me that he is not a primer first-line center. He’s just a really good two-way center who a lot of teams would love to have but not someone who they would base their franchise around. Weiss has a chance of putting up 70 points in at least one remaining season in his career but I do not think he will ever be a star.