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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
In our second ATB trade deadline preview, we stick with the defence. This time, the focus shifts to one of Montreal's youngest players, Yannick Weber. In his four professional seasons, he has spent time with the Habs in every one of them but this is his first full-time NHL campaign. Despite being a frequent scratch, he has already established a career high in goals and points.
As both Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz have established themselves as regular NHL'ers, there is a case to be made that this may very well be the right time to move him. Unlike Chris Campoli in last week's ATB, there are some more options trade wise with Weber. He could be moved for a pick, but as there is still some upside with him, he could be part of a package, or dealt for another player.
The first question to ponder though is whether or not he should actually be dealt. Our forum members are torn on this issue.
Commandant: "He should be traded because he is redundant.... a small RH (right handed), offense first d-man. Habs already have Subban as the all around guy who is RH, and Diaz who is a similar (but better) player than Weber. As such there is no spot. You can't dress Subban, Diaz, and Weber as your 3 RH d-men. There is no balance."
Athlétique.Canadien: "I now think that waiting on any decision to move Weber should be shelved unless the offer fits moving him. I'm stumped on what to do if anything regarding moving Weber now."
KamalPanesar: "I think it's pretty clear that Diaz is ahead of Weber right now and, as such, it makes him expendable. I wouldn't be surprised to see him shipped out of town as part of a package before the deadline."
illWill: "I've always liked Weber and think of him as a part of the team moving forward. I don't know why everyone seems to be on the trade-him bandwagon. All the guy has done for us is what we've asked of him the last few years."
As you saw in a couple of the comments, there are some comparisons between he and his fellow countryman, Diaz. Though most would agree that Diaz is a little more polished right now, he also is older. Should that play a factor into Pierre Gauthier's decision making?
hab29RETIRED: "Weber is a lot younger then Diaz, more skilled, has a better shot, is a bit more physical, still has the potential to become a lot stronger then Diaz as he gets a little older and starts training more in the off season."
Willey101: "Way I see it is that having one smallish D-man is enough per team and Diaz appears to be better at all aspects of the game than Weber thereby making him redundant. The problem is I don't see him getting anywhere near a 2nd.
Let's move onto the trade element. Assuming the Habs intend to move him, what is his value and should the Habs deal him on his own or in a package?
DON: "By himself; Weber should be worth a 2nd rounder or equivalent forward prospect I would hope."
JMMR: "Back to the question of his value I would say a previous 1st round pick of another team or an upcoming low first rounder or any 2nd rounder. I doubt someone actually gives a 1st rounder in this upcoming draft though with all the hype of how deep it is."
Chris: "Weber is the number 7 or 8 d-man on team that is really bad defensively. He is also playing forward. At best he is a throw in to another deal. Maybe a 4th or 5th rounder."
Of the players that are thought to be available heading into the deadline (primarily the pending UFA's), Gauthier holds the most power with Weber. He is signed at a very reasonable rate for next year (cap hit of $850,000) and at the ripe old age of 23, it's safe to say there is still some potential. Where the Habs' GM may have to move the UFA's to salvage some value, there is no need at all to do so with the former 3rd round pick. With the likely turnover on defence, there is definitely a roster spot for him next year.
That said, this may be the perfect time to move him. Defencemen are in high demand right now, higher than they've been during the offseason or early season in recent years. Where the team sold low on Mike Cammalleri, they could sell high on Weber based on his potential and years of control (at least three past this season). There is a good core of prospects in the system that aren't too far away, a short-term stopgap could always be signed while the likes of Tinordi/Beaulieu develop on the farm.
I'm not sure he'd hold a ton of value being packaged with one of the other 'trade-ees' though. Though Weber has some upside, he's not the type of guy that will convince a team to part with a high draft pick, a top prospect, a more touted youngster, or an established top six forward. Draft pick wise, his value is likely that of a 2nd or 3rd rounder but his best trade potential may be in a player-player swap. For the last few years, there has been a struggle to get productive bottom six players in beyond those that just eat time with a goal of hoping nothing happens shift after shift. Weber should be able to fetch someone who can improve on that, a useful piece that can be a strong penalty killer or provide some energy and physicality. That type of player is valuable on any team, especially one who will be trying to do a quick retooling to try and contend as soon as possible.
As I noted earlier, Gauthier has the power here. If he can't get a return at that level, then he would be best to keep Weber around. He can still be a useful piece so there's no need to rush. But he's by no means an untouchable and if he can yield a piece (player or pick) that can slot in as part of the future, now is probably as good a time as any to deal him.
You can still have your say by adding your thoughts to the ongoing forum discussion which is linked below.
- HW Forum - Trade Value Of: Yannick Weber