Lost in the never-ending debate about last summer’s blockbuster trade was that Shea Weber had a solid first year with Montreal. With Andrei Markov now out of the picture, they’ll be counting on Weber for more this coming season.
As expected, Weber moved into P.K. Subban’s role in the lineup as a top pairing blueliner while logging big minutes on both special teams units.
It was a tale of two halves for him, however. He got off to a flying start with ten points in October while adding eight more a month later. Then-coach Michel Therrien didn’t hesitate to use his new number one a lot as he averaged just over 26 minutes per game through the first three months of the season.
It was around that time that Weber began to hit a bit of a lull. Part of it can be attributed to seeing a lot of ice time and having Alexei Emelin as a playing partner but like a lot of others, he went into a slump at a less-than-ideal time.
When Claude Julien took over behind the bench, there was a real effort to try to lessen Weber’s load as his ATOI went down to a bit under 24 minutes a night. Having Jordie Benn as a dependable third pairing option certainly helped keep him a bit fresher but it didn’t translate to an uptick in production as he finished with 10 points in his last 20 games under Julien despite spending a good part of that time with Andrei Markov.
Unsurprisingly, the ice time restriction was lifted in the playoffs and Weber responded with some good and not-so-good play. As someone that had been a focal part of Montreal’s attack during the season, it was disappointing to see him get held in check as much as he did and that played a role in their early elimination. That said, it was still a very good first season overall.
Season Stats: 78 GP, 17 goals, 25 assists, 42 points, +20 rating, 38 PIMS, 12 PPG, 4 GWG, 183 shots, 25:04 ATOI
Playoff Stats: 6 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, +1 rating, 5 PIMS, 1 PPG, 1 GWG, 15 shots, 27:59 ATOI
Five Year Averages
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a full 82 game season.)
This one is pretty much a given. Weber will be on the number one pairing basically all season long and will see plenty of time with the man advantage. I wonder if they may try to scale back his penalty kill ice time though.
With Benn and newcomer Karl Alzner, the two could represent a potential first pair duo when the Habs are shorthanded which should help keep him fresher throughout the season. It also could allow them to use Weber a bit more on the power play which might not be a bad idea given the dearth of legitimate offensive threats they have on the back end. At the end of the day though, no matter how they deploy him on special teams, he will be the undisputed top defender for Montreal.
There haven’t been many defencemen that have been more consistent in recent years than Weber. He’s close to a sure bet for 15+ goals, a lot of power play points, and for leagues with hits and blocks as categories, he’s a stat stuffer there too. He’s also quite durable too having played at least 95% of the games in the last nine years.
On the flip side, his point totals took a dip last season and the Habs are not exactly an offensive juggernaut. As a result, he shouldn’t be one of the first few defenders off the board as he has been in the past as the upside when it comes to point production just isn’t there compared to the likes of Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, among others. Weber should be in that second tier to be picked, especially for those that have hits and blocks as a stat; for leagues that do have that, he’s still a low-end number one fantasy blueliner.