In the weeks leading up to the new season, we'll preview the Nashville Predators on a player-by-player basis, examining their role on the squad and expectations relative to capabilities. So come along for the ride as we look ahead to 2010-11, from Andersson to Wilson. Next up: Shea Weber.
With training camp officially opening today, its fitting that we now come to the face of the franchise. Shea Weber is recognized as one of the best defensemen in the NHL today. He has excelled for Team Canada in the Olympics, been named an NHL All-Star, and produced one dominating performance after another for the Nashville Predators. At times it seems as if there are not enough superlatives to describe the Predators' new captain, but such are the problems you have when a player can take care of business with his fists, shoot a puck through the net and shine on the biggest stages in hockey.
2010-11 promises to be the most important season yet for Shea Weber. Not only will he have to provide world-class defense and a lethal weapon (sometimes almost literally) on the power play, but he is now charged with, in part, leading a rising team to the 2nd round of the playoffs and beyond. I do not doubt he'll prove capable. Hit the jump for more.
Top defenseman, team captain, sometimes-enforcer, power play quarterback, and penalty kill contributor. It's a long list, yes - but not one that's any different, other than captain's duties, from the one he's held for two years. Judging by performance, Weber is thoroughly comfortable in this role. Despite Jason Arnott holding the captaincy, as the games wore on you got the feeling that this was already Weber and Suter's team.
He'll need to lead the team in points and goals by a defenseman, and inject life into a lethargic power play. Weber will probably lead the team in ice time or come in second to Ryan Suter, both players getting time in all situations. His is the most physical presence on the team, so he'll need to find a balance between defending his teammates (such as Patric Hornqvist) and taking too many penalties. That discipline showed through last season, when he logged a career-low 36 penalty minutes.
Weber is in the last year of a 3 year, $13,500,000 deal. He'll earn $4,500,000 in 2010-11 before being eligible for restricted free agency at the end of this year. Re-signing Weber is the single most important task on David Poile's plate, in my opinion. How much will it take? I say it doesn't matter (to an extent). Players like this don't come around very often.
El Capitan put up 43 (16 goals, 27 assists) points in 2010-11, which was a 10 point decrease from his previous year, with an even Plus/Minus. Weber scored twice in the playoffs and registered one assist. He was later named captain of the team at the Predators' "Skate of the Union" event in July.
As mentioned earlier, Weber shot the puck through. the. net. against Germany in the Winter Olympics. Witness greatness, all ye:
Statistically, what you've seen is largely what you'll get again from Shea Weber. The departure of Dan Hamhuis may mean more ice time, but it won't be much. Weber will have another standout season on Nashville's blueline, so lets put him down for a 50 point season.
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