With the season over, it's time to take a look back and examine each player's individual performance. We'll briefly break it down, and then offer a letter grade for the year. It's report cards, Nashville Predators-style, from Blum to Wilson. Next up: Shea Weber.
|2010 - Shea Weber||82||16||32||48||7||56||6||1||3||254||6.2|
Today's report card is brought to you by Predators PA Guy Paul McCann, of HockeyBuzz.com:
"A hockey fan for my entire life and a day one season ticket holder, I am one of the original bloggers for HockeyBuzz, consistently blogging on the Preds since 2005. I've just completed my fifth season as the Preds PA Annuncer. Pete Weber and I host a show called SlapShot Radio, every Wednesday night at 6 on Nashville's Sports Radio 560 WNSR. You can follow me ontwitter @PredPAPaul."
The Skinny: Shea Weber is the face of the Nashville Predator's franchise. He is the first "homegrown" captain of this team. The 6'4" blueliner was drafted 49th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Weber spent a little less than half of the 05-06 season in Nashville before taking his fulltime spot in the lineup the following year. He is a big powerful defenseman that is not afraid to play physical, who has a cannon of a shot from the point. His "through the net" goal from the 2010 Olympics has become legendary and the mantra of "Pass it to Shea and get out of theway" is wise advice. The 25 year old's quiet steady leadership was evident this past season as the team took on their captain's persona, staying steady, never getting themselves get too high or too low.
The Performance: As steady as the captain was in the room for the Predators this season, Weber was a bit inconsistent on the ice, seeming to struggle at times, especially when his defensive partner, Ryan Suter, was injured. While plus/minus can be an overrated stat, it does bear saying that Weber's +7 on the season was solid, but the -9 he posted without Suter in the lineup is notable. That being said, he finished the 2010-2011 season with 48 points, equaling his previous season's goal output and improving on his assists. He also scored quite a few timely goals, including a memorable overtime game winner against Boston. He led the team in ice time, both 5 on 5 and on special teams, and was second on the team in shots.
His 104+ MPH slap shot is lethal, and this season Shea developed a knack for using it in the right places, also uncorking a wicked wrister in its place at times, confounding goaltenders across the league. As a restricted free agent, contract negotiations with Weber have the potential to become the big off-season story in Music City. As one of the best blueliners in the league, Weber can demand big money, some say upwards of $7 million a year. Shea says he wants to stay in Nashville and the Predators have said they will match any offer that comes down the pike for him, should it get to that point. GM David Poile stated in his post-season press conference that he doesn't anticipate negotiations to stretch out very long and that they should have a dealdone by the July 1 free agent deadline.
The Grade: A solid A, simply for leading this team beyond the first round for the first time in franchise history if not for anything else. He was a tremendous steadying influence for a team that took on the dimensions of their leader. While Shea grew into the role as the season went on, that development did come at a small price to his on-ice performance early in the season. Some players collapse under the weight of the ‘C' on the jersey, Weber flourished with it, resulting in a more well-rounded player and more importantly... a leader to take this team to the next level.