Shea Weber will likely be exposed in next week’s Seattle Kraken NHL expansion draft, according to Elliotte Friedman and Renaud Lavoie.
The reason why the Canadiens would not protect their captain is that Weber has been dealing with ankle, knee and thumb injuries that could cause him to miss the entire 2021-22 season.
Foot issues have been hampering Weber, who will turn 36 in August, for several years, with surgery needed in March 2018 to repair tendons. As the Canadiens made their run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, he battled through a banged up thumb which caused him to miss the final eight games of the regular season.
Weber has five years left on the front-loaded 14-year, $110M offer sheet he signed with the Flyers in 2012 that was matched by the Predators. Four years later, Weber was dealt to Montreal for P.K. Subban.
Potential salary cap implications
While Weber’s cap hit will remain $7,857,143M through the 2025-26 season, per Cap Friendly, his salary goes from $6M in 2021-22 to $3M in 2022-23 before dropping to $1M in each of the final three seasons. At the moment, should he retire before the contract runs out the Predators would be on the hook for a $4.9M cap per season recapture penalty through 2025-26. Montreal would be hit with a $543,000 cap charge per season.
According to multiple sources — Weber, the Canadiens, the NHL and the NHLPA are doing their due diligence on the captain’s medical situation and future.
Weber’s medical history creates a very legitimate case for him to go on long-term injured reserve if he cannot play again. But the league must make that determination, and the process is underway. Weber, agent Kevin Epp, the Canadiens, the NHL and NHLPA declined to comment.
“He’s the leader of the team,” said Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot said of Shea Weber during last week’s season-end availability. “He leads a group of men and those kind of individuals you don’t find them everywhere. It comes so naturally to him. That’s why he’s talked about as one of the best leaders in the league, and it’s well deserved. He’s a special guy.”
NHL teams must submit their list of protected players by Saturday. They can protect eight skaters and one goalie or seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.