An In-Depth Look At Nashville Predators' Defenseman Yannick Weber
Sure, Yannick Weber signed with Nashville over three weeks ago, but better late than never to take a look at one of the newest Preds who could serve a major role this upcoming season.
There has not been too much discussion about Yannick Weber since he signed a one-year, $575,000 contract with the Nashville Predators on July 1. That whole Shea Weber for P.K. Subban swap may have overshadowed the signing just a bit, but the addition of Weber is an impactful move, so let's take a look at what the 27-year-old brings to the table.
Weber spent his last three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and put up a career-high in points during the 2014-15 campaign with 10 goals and 11 helpers in 65 games. He followed that up by not lighting the lamp once this past season while tallying seven assists in 45 games. Since being selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the third-round of the 2007 NHL Draft, Weber has recorded 70 points (22 G, 48 A) in 274 games at the NHL level.
While his point total doesn't jump off of the page, there are plenty of other things that point to Weber being a strong addition to the already elite Nashville defensive group.
For starters, Weber fits the trend of Nashville blue liners that can play a 200-foot game as he has the ability to join in on the attack. If this situation turns out how most us are expecting it to and Weber slots in on the right-side of the bottom pairing alongside Anthony Bitetto next season, the Predators now have six defensemen that can push play, serve roles on both ends of the ice and find an open skater with their passing abilities.
With Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Bitetto, Subban and Weber being the make up of Nashville's blue line this season, there is a clear and obvious theme among that group: speed.
Predators' general manager David Poile alluded to that idea a few days after signing Weber, telling Adam Vingan of The Tennesseean "We're looking again for more skill, more speed on the back end. That's our theme in everything that we've been doing."
The Predators buying out the final year of Barret Jackman's contract adds to the idea that Nashville wants to be as fast as possible in all facets of the game and especially on the blue line. Adding Weber to the group and removing Jackman does just that.
While on the subject of Jackman - the player Weber would virtually be taking over for - let's look at a few of Weber's and the veteran's numbers at even strength from last season.
Weber (seven points in 45 games played, 708:27 TOI): 50.43 Corsi For Per 60, 53.85 Corsi Allowed Per 60, 36 Shots On Goal, 12 Giveaways, 10 Takeaways, 33 Blocked Shots.
Jackman (five points in 73 games played, 947:36 TOI): 58.32 Corsi For Per 60, 46.75 Corsi Allowed Per 60, 64 Shots On Goal, 32 Giveaways, eight Takeaways, 75 Blocked Shots.
Stats via Corsica.
As you can see in Weber's HERO chart, from both an offensive production and possession standpoint, Weber falls somewhere between that second and third pairing spot based on his numbers last season on a rather thin Canucks team.
The Swiss d-man averaged 18:50 of ice time per contest last season, out of necessity because of the group around him in Vancouver, which would have put him fifth among Nashville defensemen. Weber won't be receiving that type of ice time in Nashville, which could open the door for a breakout season with less weight on his shoulders.
He also averaged 2:17 per game on the man advantage with five of his seven helpers on the year coming on the power play.
In fact, 33 of his 70 career NHL points have come while on the man advantage. He had five power play goals and three power play assists during his career-high 2014-15 season.
Weber hasn't scored a power play goal in 542 days (Jan. 30, 2015) but he still begins his Predators' career with power play experience and taste of success under his belt. Among fellow bottom pairing defensemen like restricted free agent Petter Granberg and Bitetto, Weber is the only one with legitimate experience on the man advantage at the NHL level.
Defenseman Matt Irwin, who was signed to a two-year contract by Nashville on July 1 as well has NHL power play experience, most recently when he averaged 1:20 per game with the San Jose Sharks during the 2014-15 season.
Weber likely won't crack the top two power play units for Nashville, but having him waiting in the wings certainly doesn't hurt anything. Adding a guy like him to the mix may open the door to be a bit more creative on the power play in terms of deployment and such.
It will be a lot of fun to watch if Weber can get back to that 20-point mark this season alongside his former teammate in Subban and former teammate/great friend in Josi.