Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
The young Swiss defender struggled mightily last season. So much so that many fans have already written him off as a prospect. Can he rebound?
All statistics courtesy of Gabriel Desjardins of Behind the Net, Olivier Bouchard of En Attendant Les Nordiques, Christopher Boucher of Boucher Scouting, Time on Ice, Greg Sinclair of Some Kind of Ninja and NHL.com. For explanations on said stats, refer to the introduction.
Yannick Weber was heavily sheltered throughout the entire season, but still put up the worst possession numbers of any returning defenseman. In fact, tossing aside Andrei Markov's aberrational scoring differential, it's tough to find an area where Weber doesn't rank last.
Where Weber was still effective was on offense. He put up the second most shots per minute played among defenseman, behind P.K. Subban by exactly half a shot per 60 minutes played at even strength. Somehow though, Weber failed to score at all at even strength in 60 games.
Most Habs fans are guilty of judging Weber against Subban, since they were drafted at the same time, but this is not a fair comparison. Not every defenseman can be the quality of Subban, and Weber's ceiling just isn't that high. However as was pointed out by Chris Boyle earlier in the month, Weber's play in his first two real NHL seasons is favourably comparable to his countryman Mark Streit's start to his NHL career. This doesn't mean Weber will become a top pairing defenseman, but it's worthwhile to note that most defensemen aren't at their peak at 23, so giving up on him now would not be wise.
On the powerplay Weber is very solid. He put up the 3rd best scoring chance differential among Habs defensemen there, which may be enough to get him into the lineup as often as last season. His risk/reward rating there wasn't at the same level, but it was still very good, similar to that of David Desharnais.
Weber was used sparingly on the penalty kill last season when injuries ravaged the Canadiens blueline. A large portion of his starts on the penalty kill were in the offensive zone, showing that he wasn't a very trusted defender. This lead to him putting up a very impressive Corsi, yet in spite of this he put up the worst scoring chance differential among all defenders on the PK. Weber really should be the last option on the PK aside from Tomas Kaberle.
If Weber can seize the moment and leapfrog Raphael Diaz on the right handed defenseman depth chart, we may see a marked increase in shots and goals from him.
First Quarter Grade: 6/10
First Half Grade: 5/10
Third Quarter Grade: 5/10
Season Grade: 4/10
Weber has a few more games to draw on that our rookies, but we still can't totally see where he's going. His terrible sophomore year also throws everything off for us, and I don't believe it will be representative of the rest of his career.
What we see is that Weber was a solid player in his rookie year and was sheltered heavily to begin with, but gained Martin's trust a little bit in the last 3rd of the season. This season was an unmitigated disaster from the 5 game or so on.
What can we expect from Weber for production? It depends greatly on how he's used, but he's the kind of player I can't see Michel Therrien misusing. The projections I've made have Weber set for 6 goals and 22 assists if he plays 82 games.