Ed. Note: From August 21st through September 16th, we will be providing previews for each player for the 2013-14 season. In no specific order, today we continue with Shea Weber…
|Shea Weber’s last 3 seasons|
2012-13 in review:
As if being captain of a National Hockey League team was not pressure enough, Shea Weber also started the 2012-13 season with a brand new 14-year deal worth $110 million that sees the All-Star defenseman signed through the 2025-26 season. It also marked the first year that Weber was without defense partner Ryan Suter, who signed with Minnesota in the offseason.
Weber had to juggle the growing pains that come with learning to play with someone new on the blue line as well as maintaining that high level of play that ensured the Predators would match the offer sheet he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers during the offseason. Early on Weber’s offensive numbers didn’t materialize as he went pointless in his first nine games and scoreless in 15 games played. The British Columbia native would end the season as the Predators’ points leader with 28, including nine goals and 19 assists in 48 games. Three of Weber’s nine goals came on the power play, as did nine of his 19 assists.
Weber was one of only three Predators to play in all 48 games during the lockout-shortened season. David Legwand and Roman Josi were the other Preds to play in all contests of the season. For a second straight season his ice time hovered around 26 minutes a night. Overall it wasn’t Weber’s best season, but it was also going to be difficult to high expectations in the lockout-shortened season.
Burning question for 2013-14: Will he switch defensive partners again?
Weber played well with Roman Josi and it looked like Nashville was confident they had found their replacement for Suter, who signed a seven-year contract worth $28 million this past off-season. That may have all changed in late June when the Predators selected Seth Jones No. 4 overall. There has been speculation that Jones might find himself paired with Weber at some point this upcoming season.
“In your long term vision you’d like to see (Weber paired with Jones),” Trotz said last week. “You’re going to see them [together] in some of the preseason and some of the scrimmages; I’ll do that on purpose just to let them rub shoulders with each other a little bit.”
Weber’s play last season slipped in terms of what is expected of a player of his ilk, so he will be looking to have a quick start to the season this year in terms of putting points up on the board. The best way to do that may be to put him in the most comfortable situation, which would be pairing him with Josi once again.
If Weber can play to the levels he did in 2011-12, he will surely find himself nominated for the Norris Trophy for the third time in his career. Weber has yet to take the NHL’s award for top defenseman, though a recent poll of NHL players conducted by ESPN had his peers on the ice choosing him as the best defenseman in the League. He is a near lock to join Team Canada in Sochi, Russia for the winter Olympics. Barring injury, it would be the second time Weber has represented Canada in the Olympics, winning a gold medal in Vancouver in 2010.