Stephen Weiss heads to Detroit Red Wings with 5-year, $24.5 million deal

For the second time on Friday, the Detroit Red Wings plucked a player off free agency who had spent their entire career with one franchise. After signing Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson to a 1-year deal earlier in the day, general manager Ken Holland snapped up Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers on a 5-year, $24.5 million deal.

It's a bit of a homecoming for the 30-year old Weiss, who played junior with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. He'll also not be far from his hometown of Toronto.

Weiss was the Panthers' No. 1 pick (fourth overall) at the 2001 NHL Draft and even during the leanest of years, he had the opportunity to move on, but stayed loyal. He signed a six-year extension in 2007, and in 2011, with trade rumors circling, Weiss decided against waiving his no-trade clause to move out of Florida. "I'll stay here until my career is over if they'll let me. But it's not up to me," he said a week before the trade deadline that season.

The Panthers had over $45 million tied up in players heading into Friday, so a big splash wasn't going to be in the cards for them.

“We’ll probably be more active in August. We’re not going to overpay on July 5,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon told George Richards of the Miami Herald earlier this week. “We’re going to sit tight and be patient and get some good players at the right price.”

Tallon has kept busy this week by buying out Filip Kuba's contract, re-signing Shawn Matthias and inking Mike Mottau and Joey Crabb to deals.

Moving to Detroit, Weiss is projected to take the second line spot from the soon-to-be departing Valtteri Filppula. Weiss scored 20-plus goals in three straight seasons before a wrist injury forced him to have season-ending surgery in March.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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