Shea Weber‘s first year as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, the 2016-2017 season, came to a disappointing close: a loss at the hands of the New York Rangers. Now after a year filled with comparisons to the player he was traded for – Nashville Pedators P.K. Subban – the chatter has died down. His sole focus can be about what happens on the ice. As training camp begins and the 2017-2018 season creeps ever so close day by day, Weber is ready to lace ’em up and get the party started.
Montreal Canadiens Player Profile: Shea Weber
The 32 year old Weber had a line of 17 goals and 25assists for 42points, a +20, ATOI of 25:04 in 78 contests in the 2016-2017 season. After a year of gaining chemistry with teammates, learning a new system twice, Weber will be poised to increase his offensive production. He is the model stay at home defenseman, who logs big minutes and plays in all situations for the Canadiens. He is big and strong who plays physical and is always in the right spot positionally. Weber is known around the NHL, as one of the best in the business.
Defensively he will clear out the front of the crease so that Carey Price has clear vision of the play in front of him. Weber won’t shy away from the physical play. He can lay a hit on an opponent just as easy as making a slick poke check to break up the play. Weber always makes the quality play to clear the defensive zone or to create an attack. In 2017-2018 Weber’s pairing is still unclear. He could be put with free agent signing Karl Alzner; David Schlemko, who was picked up in a trade; last year’s revelation in Jamie Benn; or free agent puck movers Mark Streit or Jakub Jerabek.
In any event it will be a different dynamic from last years pairing with Andrei Markov an experienced defenceman who was reliable defensively and was able to move the puck out of the zone. More will be asked of Weber whether that be due to playing with a defensive player like Alzner or Benn, or it be taking on big defensive responsibility beside Schlemko, Jerabek or Streit. The Habs are lacking an ideal partner for Weber, and this will lead to more responsibility on Weber’s shoulders.
His outlet pass is underrated, he’s quick to get the puck up ice once the puck hits his tape. His transitions out of the defensive zone include many 2-1 odd man rushes. With the addition of speedster Jonathan Drouin to an already speedy top-six, Weber’s breakout pass will be deadly to opposing netminders. As more odd man rushes should be created.
In the attack zone Weber is always a threat. He possesses a monster shot. He can also thread the needle to a teammate to continue the play. Weber has great offensive skill. The opposition always has to be aware of him when he is on the ice. When on the ice together with the newly acquired Drouin, some focus should be taken away from Weber. This should equate into more chances at even strength for the squad in the coming year.
On special teams especially the power play Weber excels, with 12 of 17 goals and 22 of his 42 points produced with the man advantage. On the blueline, Weber quarterbacks the power play. He can rip a shot on net for a tip, rebound, or hit the twine himself. If a shot is not possible he can pass the puck to the open man so the attack can continue. On the penalty kill Weber can make life rough on the opposition. He can move people out of the netminders face while being positionally sound to clog passing lanes. He has the long reach and is quick enough for a poke check to keep the puck on the outside of the oppositions scoring zone.
Ultimately only time will tell, but Weber is poised to have a monster year. Defensively, he will be as stalwart as ever. Offensively, with added responsibilities due to Markov leaving, Weber should have even more offensive opportunities. With a player of his caliber more opportunities equates to more points. This could be the year Weber finally ends the season with a Norris trophy. However, that is not his main goal. What would be best of all a victory lap with the Stanley Cup after winning the Canadiens 25th Championship.
Main Photo: MONTREAL, QC – OCTOBER 29: Shea Weber #6 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his goal during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre on October 29, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)