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After signing a 2-year contract with the Canadiens, Yannick Weber seems ready to take the next step in his professional hockey career. Although Weber sits fairly far down the depth chart, he has valuable offensive skills that might see him earn some minutes on a (typically) potent powerplay. Similar to his countryman Mark Streit, Weber has played both forward and defence with Montreal; does he have the potential to put up similar numbers?
Weber began the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs last year, recording 8 goals and 4 assists in 15 games before being called up to the big club. The trade of Ryan O'Byrne as well as the injuries to Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges ensured that the Swiss-born defenceman would remain with the Canadiens for the duration of the season. Weber was used in a wide variety of roles including forward, defence and on the powerplay unit.
NHL Season Stats: 41 GP, 1 goal, 10 assists, even rating, 14 PIM, 5 PPA, 63 shots, 16:33 TOI
NHL (projected over 82 games)
AHL (3-year average)
Without the aid of a crystal ball, it is next to impossible to know what kind of role Yannick Weber will play this season. Weber has demonstrated that he will adopt any role that benefits the team, so he might line up on the 4th line or take a regular shift on the bottom defensive pairing. What is known is that he possesses an above-average slapshot as well as excellent vision that will likely manifest at the point on the powerplay. Barring any injuries, he shouldn't rise beyond this role this season, and would do well to simply stave off internal competition. It would be unlikely to see Weber's minutes exceed 20 minutes per game.
There are a number of things one must take into account when projecting Weber's statistics for the 2011-12 season. Will he play primarily as a defenceman or forward? Will he dress for all 82 games? Assuming that he sees powerplay time, what wave will he be on and with whom will he be paired? Will he ever score on another goalie besides Tim Thomas? Weber has shown that he can put up impressive offensive numbers at every level save the NHL... will this be his year to breakout?
If Weber breaks out as Mark Streit did in 2007-08 (13G-49A-62P-34PPP) in a similar role, he might prove to be quite the sleeper pick. Keep an eye on his position eligibility, as he may qualify as both a forward and defenseman in some leagues. At this point, the safe strategy is to draft Weber with either a late pick or pluck him from the free agent pool/waivers should he impress during pre-season.
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- HabsWorld 2011 Fantasy Focus posted by B. La Rose