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Will Panthers center Stephen Weiss be key to Roberto Luongo trade?

The Panthers' playoff chances may affect the team's desire to trade Stephen Weiss before he becomes a free agent. (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images) The Panthers' playoff chances may affect the team's desire to trade Stephen Weiss before he becomes a free agent. (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

A 1-4 start to a shortened season has placed center and alternate captain Stephen Weiss in the middle of Florida Panthers trade talk, according to reports via The Hockey News.

Last week, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun pointed to the team's lack of cash to re-sign their alternate captain in reporting trade "talk" about Weiss days after he was removed from the Panthers lineup on Jan. 24. The team responded to Twitter trade speculation with a report that he had suffered a lower-body injury.

The Panthers aren't expected to shop Weiss and his six-year, $18.6 million contract in the event they can rebound and make a playoff run, but they will feel the weight of possibly losing him as a free agent if they continue to lose this season.

CBSSports.com's Brian Stubits likens the Panthers' dilemma to their situation with Jay Bouwmeester a few years ago.

The Panthers rolled the dice then and hung onto Bouwmeester in an attempt to make the playoffs. They just missed and Bouwmeester's rights were traded to Calgary in the summer. It's a different group in Florida's front office now but surely they know the risks and potential rewards in this scenario.
If the Panthers opt to trade Weiss, their first choice might be the Canucks as part of a deal for goalie Roberto Luongo. Weiss' control via a "no-movement" clause and the Canucks' desire to re-sign him could be obstacles for such a swap.

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