Canucks defenseman Yannick Weber entered the 2014-15 season knowing he had to be more reliable at five-on-five. That much was made clear by then-new coach Willie Desjardins.
Fast forward to the present and Weber has done just that. The 26-year-old has not been a defensive liability and, moreover, he leads all Vancouver blue-liners with 11 goals and has been a big reason the Canucks’ power play has climbed all the way to No. 8 in the NHL.
Consider: of his team’s last 11 power-play goals, Weber has scored four of them and has assists on two more. His booming right-hand shot from the point, on full display last night versus the Coyotes, has many in Vancouver recalling the days when Sami Salo would hammer it home from back there.
It also has observers wondering if the Canucks will be able to re-sign the pending restricted free agent.
Weber sounds like he’d like to stay.
“This is the team that gave me a second chance at a career in this league after Montreal and I’ve had some real good looks here,” he said, per The Province. “I’ve gotten a lot of trust from the coaches here and that goes a long way for any player.”
But in the wake of Luca Sbisa’s $10.8 million extension, will the Canucks have enough cap space to get something done? Because they also have Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, and Chris Tanev under contract through at least next season; those five will have a combined cap hit of $22.15 million in 2015-16.
It’s possible the Canucks could convince Weber to take a hometown discount next season, with the promise of more to come in the future.
It’s also possible they could try and trade Bieksa, who has just one year remaining before he can become an unrestricted free agent. But the 33-year-old franchise stalwart would need to agree to it, and leaving Vancouver isn’t something he’s shown much of a desire to do.
Losing Weber could hurt though.
“He’s played real well for us,” Desjardins said. “He’s made a difference. … To be successful, you need contributions like that from different guys and when you look back at the year … he made a big difference how he stepped up.”