A few minutes after Stephen Weiss talked about centering a line in Detroit that features Stanley Cup champs Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, his former general manager said the Florida Panthers were going the opposite direction of veteran-led teams like the Red Wings.
"We're going to go young. Going to go with our young guys,'' Dale Tallon said after Weiss left the Panthers after more than a decade and signed a five-year deal worth almost $25 million in Detroit.
"That's been the plan all along and that's the way we're going to go.''
The Panthers are headed to a new division this season, one that includes Weiss' Red Wings as well as the defending east champion Bruins, Montreal, Ottawa, Buffalo, Toronto and Tampa Bay.
Florida goes into that big-money division handcuffed by an internal budget which will keep it closer to the salary cap floor which is around $44 million.
By signing Shawn Matthias on Friday and adding forward Joey Crabb, the Panthers current salary cap hit is about $47 million. The Panthers also shed close to a $1 million by sending enforcer George Parros to Montreal for a minor leaguer and a seventh round draft pick.
The big news around the Panthers, however, was the loss of Weiss and the lack of any free agent action. Tallon reiterated what he said on Tuesday that the Panthers would sign some free agents as the summer rolls on.
"It just didn't work. We couldn't get it done,'' Tallon said of the Weiss negotiations. "It didn't fit in. You know, it's not very often you get into this position to be an unrestricted free agent. I don't blame Stephen one bit. I'm happy for him. He's deserving of it. We have to move on."
For Weiss, leaving the only franchise he has ever known was a bit bittersweet. The Red Wings are a team built to compete for championships and were a win away from knocking off the eventual Stanley Cup champs out in the west semifinals.
Not only did the Red Wings find their second-line center in Weiss on Friday, but they also snapped up Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson.
"Coming from Florida, only being in the playoffs one time, it was pretty easy decision to come and play for the Red Wings," Weiss said on a conference call with Alfredsson.
"It’s been a culture of winning over the years. Their goal every year is to win a Stanley Cup and to come to a team and be a part of that is really exciting. I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity to come to this team.”
The Panthers made some minor depth moves and replaced Parros on the fourth line by giving winger Joey Crabb a two-year deal. Florida also signed Matthias, a restricted free agent, a two-year deal worth $1.8 million per season.
"Everyone knows that Stephen and I are pretty close,'' Matthias said of Weiss. "He's a special guy who was here a long time and really cared about the Panthers. I'm sure this is a tough day for him.''