NHL notes: Panthers' Stephen Weiss has season-ending surgery
|Panthers forward Stephen Weiss during a break in action against the Canadiens at the Bell Cenre in Montreal, March 27, 2012. (PIERRE-PAUL POULIN/QMI Agency)
Scratch Florida Panthers forward Stephen Weiss's name off the list of trade bait.
Turns out Weiss won't be going anywhere on or before the April 3 trade deadline because the Panthers have booked him an appointment with the surgeon.
The 29-year-old, rumoured to be dealt this season due to his impending status as an unrestricted free agent, will have season-ending wrist surgery next week. Weiss has struggled badly this season, recording one goal and three assists while going minus-13 in 17 games.
"He couldn't perform up to his capabilities, in his opinion, and he wanted to get it fixed," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. "It was difficult for him and for all of us. Stephen cares and he feels badly about it, but he's got to do what's best for him, too. This is a big year for him as well.
"We'll go into (his contract situation) later. Let's get him healthy first."
The Panthers also have decided to part company with forward Alex Kovalev. He is still with the team as he weighs his options -- he could agree to go to the AHL, accept a buyout or retire -- but he's no longer in Tallon's plans.
"It was just a mutual agreement that we wanted to go in a different direction, that's all," Tallon said.
KALETA SPEAKS OUT
Suspended Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta responded to his critics Tuesday but refused to talk about the hit on New York Rangers forward Brad Richards that resulted in his five-game ban.
"A lot of people are calling me scumbags, a dirty hockey player, but I play hard, I play on the edge," Kaleta told WGR 550. "It doesn't define me as a person, it defines one play that could be controversial either way so that's the way it is. The can call me whatever they want to call me.
"People know me as a person and I know you guys and people in Buffalo see me as a hockey player, how I've grown and what I'm like on and off the ice so you guys know what kind of a person I am. They don't. They see one play and judge a player and how you are as a person on that one play."
Kaleta hit Richards from behind Sunday, a play that earned him a five-game suspension. He is considered a repeat offender by the NHL, with his most recent ban coming in November 2011 for a headbutt on Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers.
VISNOVSKY HEADS HOME
New York Islanders defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky missed Tuesday's game against the Montreal Canadiens for personal reasons.
Visnovsky, who might also be unavailable for Thursday's game against the New York Rangers, headed home to Slovakia to deal with a "family tragedy," according to Newsday. It is unrelated to the health of Visnovsky's son, however.
The 36-year-old reported late to training camp, reportedly because his son has health issues.
Visnovsky has one goal and five assists in 12 games with the Isles this season.
PREDS MAKE CLAIM
The Nashville Predators made another waiver claim Tuesday, picking up forward Zach Boychuk from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
A day earlier, the Preds claimed forward Bobby Butler from the New Jersey Devils.
Boychuk, a first-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008, has zero points in eight games with Carolina and Pittsburgh this season. He had 16 goals and 16 assists in 37 games with Charlotte of the AHL.
The Predators also put forward Brandon Yip on injured reserve with an upper-body issue.
HAMMER COMING DOWN?
A healthy scratch more often than not this season, veteran defenceman Roman Hamrlik could finally be done with the Washington Capitals.
The Caps put Hamrlik, who has played nearly 1,400 career NHL games, on waivers Tuesday while signing defenceman Steven Oleksy and calling him up from Hershey of the AHL. Defenceman Mike Green was also put on injured reserve, although he is eligible to return Thursday against the Florida Panthers.
Hamrlik, 38, is in the last season of a two-year, $7 million contract. He's played in just four games this season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins signed veteran forward Tom Kostopoulos to a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Kostopoulos has been playing with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL on a try-out basis ... The Tampa Bay Lightning called up goalie Cedrick Desjardins from Syracuse of the AHL. The Lightning needed a replacement for Mathieu Garon, who suffered a lower-body injury Monday against the Penguins ... The New Jersey Devils called up tough-guy Cam Janssen from Albany of the AHL. Janssen, who played just three games with the Devils this season, was put on waivers and assigned to Albany in late January.