Tag: Shea Weber

Kris Letang

Now is the time to explore trading Letang


This isn’t to say the Pittsburgh Penguins should trade Kris Letang. Let’s get that clear right off the bat. It all depends on the return. Letang may not be the best defensive defenseman in the game, and of course he’s had some serious health issues that may make potential trade partners wary. But he still logs almost 25 minutes a night, and since 2010-11, only Erik Karlsson has averaged more points per game among regular NHL blue-liners.

Which is to say, if the Pens do trade Letang, they better have a plan to replace him, both in the short- and long-term. We imagine re-signing Matt Niskanen would be part of that plan, and extending Paul Martin for a few more years might be a good idea as well. Oh, and they’d probably have to get a decent d-man back in the trade.

So if all that has to happen and it’s such a big risk, why explore dealing him in the first place? Well, for starters, as we wrote just last week, there’s a real demand around the NHL for right-handed d-men who can play regular minutes and help a team’s power play. Would Detroit be interested? You can bet Ken Holland would at least answer Ray Shero’s call.

Letang, 27, is also about to start an eight-year, $58 million contract, which comes with a cap hit of $7.25 million. Only Shea Weber and Ryan Suter have higher hits among NHL d-men. And remember, the Penguins already have two of the three highest cap hits in the league, with Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million) and Evgeni Malkin ($9.5 million) also on the books. Bottom line: having three of the league’s top 16 cap hits presents a challenge when it comes to improving the rest of the team, and teams that lack depth don’t win Stanley Cups.

Finally, let’s not forget Olli Maatta, 19, and Derrick Pouliot, 20, a pair of blue-chip youngsters from the 2012 draft. The former is already with the Pens; the latter was recently named the WHL’s top defenseman. If all goes well, both will be excellent NHLers. Again, if all goes well. No guarantees.

Crosby, Getzlaf, Giroux are your Hart Trophy finalists


Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux are the three finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”

From NHL.com:

Crosby posted 36 goals as well as a League-leading 68 assists and 104 points to capture his second career Art Ross Trophy and lead the Penguins to their second consecutive division title. He registered points in 60 of the 80 games he played in (75.0%), including 30 multi-point performances, and never went more than two consecutive games without registering a point.

Getzlaf scored a career-high 31 goals and ranked second in the League with 87 points to power the Ducks to the top record in the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history. He posted a 14-game point streak Nov. 15-Dec. 15 (6-11—17), the longest in the NHL since the 2011-12 season.

Giroux matched a career high with 28 goals and finished third in the NHL scoring race with 86 points to help the Flyers bounce back from a 3-9-0 start to the season to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven years. After being held pointless in his first five games and not scoring a goal until his 16th contest, Giroux totaled 28-51—79 in his final 67 outings of the season, an average of 1.18 points per game.

Let’s face it, it would be a shock if Crosby doesn’t win, given he led the league in scoring by a mile, with 17 points more than second-place Getzlaf.

Crosby has only won the Hart once, back in 2007. Alex Ovechkin has won it three times since then, with Henrik Sedin, Corey Perry and Evgeni Malkin nabbing one each.

As for the so-called snubs…

— Semyon Varlamov. Pretty darn valuable to the Avalanche, who would’ve struggled to make the playoffs without excellent goaltending.
— The Selke Trophy types: Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, and Anze Kopitar all had fine seasons for playoff teams.
— No defensemen made the final three, but we’d be surprised if Duncan Keith didn’t get a few votes from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Meanwhile, Ryan Suter played almost 30 minutes a night for Minnesota, more than two minutes higher than any other player in the NHL averaged. Nashville’s Shea Weber — the leader among d-men in goals, with 23 — got at least one vote.

Chara, Keith and Weber are this year’s Norris Trophy finalists

Shea Weber

Boston’s Zdeno Chara, Chicago’s Duncan Keith, and Nashville’s Shea Weber are the three finalists for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.

From NHL.com:

Chara…averaged a team-high 24:39 of ice time per game, nearly 3 minutes more than the next-closest player, and also placed in the top 10 among NHL defensemen in goals (17), plus/minus (+25), power-play goals (10) and game-winning goals (3). 

Keith led all defensemen with 55 assists and ranked second among blueliners with 61 points to power a Chicago offense that paced the NHL with 267 goals.

Weber ranked first among defensemen with 23 goals and set a franchise record for points by a blueliner with 56, leading the Predators in scoring for the second consecutive season. 

Of the three, Weber is the only one who’s yet to win the award. Chara won in 2009; Keith in 2010.

The last two recipients, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Montreal’s PK Subban, also had strong seasons, with the former leading all d-men with 74 points. However, both finished as minus players (Karlsson -15, Subban -4), which despite the dubiousness of that statistic may have hurt their chances with Professional Hockey Writers’ Association voters. (Ottawa’s poor season as a team wouldn’t have helped Karlsson either.)

Weber also finished as a minus player (-2) on a Predators team that didn’t make the playoffs, which could hurt his chances. That said, Nicklas Lidstrom won the award in 2011 with a minus-2 rating, so voters have been able to look past plus/minus before.

As for some so-called snubs…

— Minnesota’s Ryan Suter led the NHL in total ice time, averaging almost 30 minutes a game, while scoring more points than Chara’s 40, with 43.

— Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman had the third-most even-strength points (35), behind only Karlsson (43) and Keith (39).

— Calgary’s Mark Giordano was a favorite of the advanced stats community, with a 53.3% Corsi on a rebuilding Flames team that had poor overall possession numbers.

Poile: Nashville’s defense will be best we’ve ever had


The Nashville Predators have featured some pretty strong defensive groups in the past, but even in that context Predators GM David Poile thinks fans should be particularly excited about their current group.

“Our defense will be the best defense we’ve ever had in Nashville,” Poile said, per the Tennessean. “This defense has the potential to be as good as any defense in the National Hockey League.”

That’s saying a lot when you consider that in 2006-07, Nashville was led by blueliners Kimmo Timonen, Shea Weber, Marek Zidlicky, Ryan Suter, and Dan Hamhuis. That was the Predators’ final season with Timonen, but Weber and Suter went on to become arguably the best defensive duo in the league until Suter left Nashville as a free agent.

The Predators ranked 23rd in goals allowed per game in 2013-14, although part of that was due to the Predators’ goaltending situation being complicated by Pekka Rinne’s hip injury.

That’s not to shrug off the defense’s role in Nashville’s shortcomings, but if they continue to develop, then 23-year-old Roman Josi, 23-year-old Ryan Ellis, and 19-year-old Seth Jones have the potential to make up a formidable top-four with Shea Weber. There’s also the chance that Michael Del Zotto will bounce back after a rocky 2013-14 campaign.

All-in-all, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Nashville’s young and talented defense will improve. The bigger question is if the Predators can assemble two respectable scoring lines.

Weber sounds off after Preds eliminated from playoffs


The Nashville Predators were officially eliminated from the playoffs for the second straight season on Tuesday — losing 3-2 in a shootout to Dallas — and following the game, captain Shea Weber teed off on, well, everything.

“Nobody likes losing. It’s frustrating,” he said, per The Tennessean. “I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. It sucks. I hate it. Everyone in here hates it, and it’s not a good feeling. Something’s got to change. We have to get better, and we have to find a way to get into the postseason.”

Weber is at an interesting time in his career. Now 28, he’s been to the playoffs on numerous occasions (six), yet never advanced past the second round and, since signing his mega 14-year, $110 million deal, has seen his team regress and fail to crack the postseason at all.

As such, it’ll be interesting to see what the Preds do in light of his recent comments.

With all due respect to Pekka Rinne, Weber is Nashville’s most valuable and important player. His name occasionally does surface in trade rumors, largely due to speculation of how much the Preds could get in return for his services and the notion that he’d welcome a move to a different market (somewhat verified by the fact Weber signed an offer sheet with Philly.)

There are already signs that Nashville is trying to go the extra mile for its captain right now. The team has been pushing his Norris candidacy hard over the last few weeks (see here and here), so it’ll be curious to see if GM David Poile echoes Weber’s comments about needing to improve the club.