GM Marc Bergevin has
his work cut out for him in this offseason after a strong 2013-14 campaign from
the Canadiens. Not only does he have to prepare for the
upcoming draft but the club has to make decisions on the 18 players whose
contracts expire on July 1st. This is the fourth and final article of our series
discussing some of the notable pending unrestricted free agents.
The acquisition of Mike Weaver was quickly dismissed as merely acquiring
depth in case of injury but it didn’t take long for him to make his mark on the
team. He wound up being a regular down the stretch for the Habs and suited
up for every postseason game. There is hope that some of Montreal’s
prospects can make the jump next year but would the Habs be wise to keep Weaver
in the fold?
Inside the Numbers
Offence has never been a strength for Weaver who has a grand total of eight
goals in his career, one of which came in his brief time with Montreal.
That said, he had more points in 17 games with Montreal (seven) as he did in 55
games with Florida (six). His main contributions to the stat sheet come in
the form of hits and blocked shots and he averaged nearly 1.7 of each per game
during the regular season, comparable to his career averages. In the
postseason, his hit total dropped to one per game but he led the team in blocks,
averaging over three per contest. Plus/minus isn’t as relevant a stat as
it once was but it’s worth noting that he was a -9 with Florida and a +17
(regular season and playoffs combined) with the Canadiens.
Season: 72 GP, 1 goal, 12 assists, 13 points, even rating, 31 PIMS, 53 shots
Playoffs: 17 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, +8 rating, 14 PIMS, 4
Argument to keep him
Michel Therrien likes his defence to be active in blocking shots, something
that Weaver does quite well. He can handle a regular third pairing shift,
log some important minutes on the penalty kill, and doesn’t have to be as
sheltered as often as we saw the likes of Bouillon, Murray, Beaulieu, and
Tinordi from this past year. At his age, Weaver likely will be content in
signing a one year deal and it shouldn’t come at too high of a price. The
Habs don’t exactly have a plethora of NHL calibre blueliners that are
right-handed, that list starts and ends with P.K. Subban. Weaver’s
presence would mean that no more than one left-shot defenceman would have to
play his off-side.
Argument to let him go
At 5’10, he’s very small for a defenceman, one of the tiniest in the league
in that regard. Weaver isn’t particularly mobile and doesn’t have a good
first pass, stifling Montreal’s transition game. For those who want to see
more of the youth movement on the back end, bringing him back reduces the amount
of potential playing time for a prospect. That youngster also would be
cheaper than Weaver which would yield some cap savings. Given his age (36)
and style of play (lots of hits and blocks), can he handle the rigours of
another full season or is he due for a significant injury? Any multi-year
deal will be pegged with the 35+ restrictions as well.
Weaver has never commanded big money in his career. In fact, his $1.1
million salary/cap hit on his soon-to-expire contract is the highest that he has
ever received. Given that he’s 36 and a third pairing defenceman, it’s not
likely that he’s going to command a lot higher than that, regardless of how
effective he was with Montreal. But, given the dearth of defencemen on the
market, it’s fair to expect he’ll get a bit of a raise. A one year deal
around $1.5 million doesn’t seem too unrealistic.
I think the Habs would like to bring Weaver back in the role that Francis
Bouillon was supposed to have this past year, signed to be a veteran extra but
who has the trust of the coaching staff to the point where he plays more than
originally anticipated. I doubt Weaver can command multiple years at this
stage of his career so it’ll be a one year pact. My guess is that Marc
Bergevin would open with an amount close to what Weaver made last year
(somewhere around $1.25 million) but would be willing to move to around the $1.5
million mark like Bouillon and Murray earned in 2013-14.