Leading up to the lockout-shortened season, we will be providing 2012-13 previews for each player. In no specific order, we continue with Shea Weber today…
For the second straight season, Shea Weber fell just short of winning the Norris Trophy – but that doesn’t mean Weber didn’t have a Norris-caliber season in 2011-12.
Weber was a game-changer on both sides of the ice last season. He was a key ingredient to the Predators’ offensive attack, finishing with 19 goals (3rd on team) and 49 points (4th), as well as 22 power play points on the league’s top-ranked man advantage. Defensively, the captain was the menacing force opponents have grown to know in recent years. He logged 26 minutes of ice time a night, boasted a plus-21 rating and was valuable in all situations – even strength, penalty kill, power play.
Weber became the center of attention in the first round against Detroit when he rammed Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass in Game 1. Weber brushed off the criticism and hostility with a dominant series to help vault the Predators into the second round. He finished the five-game series defeat against Phoenix with one assist and a minus-2 rating.
In July, the Predators matched a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet Weber had signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Weber opted to stay in Nashville during the lockout and help run the on-ice drills in Franklin. He also grew a lockout beard that rivals his playoff beards of the past.
Without longtime defense partner Ryan Suter by his side, Weber will find himself in unknown territory to start this season. It will be interesting to see how Weber maintains his high level of play, as Roman Josi is expected to skate alongside Weber on the Predators’ top defense pairing. Understandably, it will likely take a little bit for them to gain solid chemistry – which, given the shortened season, could be a concern for the Predators.
Despite that, it is clearly Weber’s team now. He’s the captain, the star, the face of the franchise and all of the above. The Predators will go as far as he (and Pekka Rinne) takes them.