If you watched Hotstove Tonight on Hockey Night In Canada last weekend, you heard Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon toss cold water on rumours that he was willing to trade unrestricted free agent-to-be Stephen Weiss, who has a no-move clause.

"Ridiculous," Tallon said. "I'm not trading him, I'm going to try to sign him."

The Panthers are loaded with prospects and re-signing Weiss allows the organization to a) hold on to those players and b) prevent head coach Kevin Dineen from tossing them into situations they may not be ready for.

It's really hard to find good centres. Clubs get them and try their hardest to keep them. In the last four seasons, Florida's finished 17th, 28th, 27th and 27th in goals per game. In each of those years, Weiss finished in the top two in team scoring.

The post-lockout market for UFA centres was set by Travis Zajac, who signed an eight-year, $46-million US extension with the New Jersey Devils (salary cap hit is $5.75 million). I'm not sure what Tallon's going to offer Weiss, but you have to figure Zajac's numbers are at least in the ballpark.

Zajac will be 28-years-old; Weiss will be 30. Their career points-per-game averages are close, with Zajac at .599 in 431 NHL games and Weiss at .612 in 641. Both play against the opponent's top lines.

There are seven prospective free-agent centres, including Weiss, who could, in theory, centre a No. 1 line next season:

Ryan Getzlaf, 28, Anaheim, $5.325M cap hit
Valtteri Filppula, 29, Detroit, $3M cap hit
Weiss, 30, Florida, $3.1M cap hit
Derek Roy, 30, Dallas, $4M cap hit
Mike Ribeiro, 33, Washington, $5M cap hit
Patrik Elias, 37, New Jersey, $6M cap hit
(Let's exclude Ryan O'Reilly because he is restricted).

All of these teams are in the same situation as Florida. If these guys go, they've got to be replaced. Not always easy.