Following a report on Wednesday that the future of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber could be in doubt, the team issued an update announcing that the defenseman will be sidelined for the next four-to-six weeks due to an ankle sprain.
Weber has missed the team’s past three games and it was already announced that he would miss the next two games this week in Boston (Wednesday) and Pittsburgh (Saturday).
Earlier on Wednesday a report from Nick Kypreos said Weber’s season could be over and that his future is in doubt due a foot injury that was related to the one that required surgery in 2018. The Canadiens issued a brief statement following that report and simply said they will be able to provide an update by the end of the week and will have no further comment at the present time.
Not even two hours later, they issued their most recent update on Weber’s status.
So while this news is more promising than the initial report, it is still not exactly good.
Weber was having a great season for the Canadiens and is still their best, most impactful defenseman. They do not have anyone that can replace him now or in the immediate future. When healthy, he has still been an outstanding player in Montreal but injuries have severely limited him since arriving via trade prior to the 2016-17 season, having already missed 87 games (and now counting) since then.
Weber is still signed for six more seasons at an annual salary cap hit of $7.857 million dollars.
Because of that, the Nashville Predators also have to always be watching his health and career closely. In the (unlikely) event that Weber decides to retire before his contract expires, they would be on the hook for a massive cap recapture penalty that could significantly impact their roster. That decision is still probably quite a ways off (and Weber simply going on LTIR so he can continue to be paid is a far more likely outcome than an official retirement in the event that he could no longer play) but it is still something that could be a factor in the future.
The Predators traded Weber to Montreal in a one-for-one deal involving P.K. Subban.
In the short-term, though, this would situation would seem to put a pretty significant dent in the Canadiens’ already fading playoff chances. Despite a 9-4-0 record since January 10, the Canadiens enter Wednesday’s game against Boston eight points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Related: How quickly can Canadiens turn things around?
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.