Panthers’ Weiss, Horton amp it up
Peter DeBoer likely isn’t the first Florida coach who felt like he
was herding Cats, trying to get the most out of Stephen Weiss and
The snickers around fantasy pool draft tables grew louder by
the year as people continued to doubt these two would ever fully
realize their potential and would instead settle in as second-rate
But who’s laughing now?
Weiss, drafted fourth overall in 2001, and Horton, taken
third overall in ’03, have got it going right now, helping the
Panthers claw through a stunningly average collection of Eastern
Conference teams into a playoff spot right now.
Horton has racked up 23 points over his past 18 games, while
Weiss has put up 20 in 16. Both are on pace to sniff around the
75-point barrier, which must have DeBoer ready to do back flips.
The production is particularly needed and valued given David
Booth’s ongoing absence due to the lingering effects of a
It would have been hard to pinpoint who offered less hope
coming into this season, given Weiss’ advancing age and Horton’s
Weiss actually put up a career-high 61 points last year as
Florida — wait for it — narrowly missed out on a
playoff spot. He also turned 26 right before the season ended and
while that makes the Panther a young pup in the real world, he had
been an NHLer for enough time to cause legitimate questions as to
whether his wasn’t so much a case of untapped potential as a poor
projection on the part of the Panthers.
Horton, meanwhile, took a left turn after consecutive
62-point campaigns, dropping to 45 last year. But the 24-year-old
has things pointed the right way again, demonstrating last year’s
dip could just be a blip on the radar.
Aside from Florida’s most frustrating duo suddenly doing it
right, there’s also room for optimism up front because of the
continued development of feisty Michael Frolik and a surprise
season from Stephen Reinprecht, who could well top out at a
career-best 60 points. If Booth rejoins the mix at some point,
scoring should be less of a problem than it’s traditionally been in
the sunshine state.
Disappointment is like the honorary state flavor when it
comes to hockey in Florida, so we’ll forgive those of you who want
to wait a little while before attaching the “arrived” tag on Horton
But if Panther fans want to get crazy and contemplate some
really good news, unlike talented players in the team’s past, both
Horton and Weiss have committed to Florida with long-term
contracts. That means their arrival won’t be immediately followed
by a departure.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News
magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a
regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his
column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.
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