It was trade deadline day. Hockey fans all over the world curled up to their cup of coffee, and figured out the best way to lie to their boss about why they wouldn't be coming into work that day.
As per usual, the deadline day shows on TSN and Sportsnet were in full force, although as per usual the trades were not coming.
It was lunch time, and hope faded fast for Habs fans. What was Bergevin doing? Why isn't he using up his cap space? He accumulated over $8M throughout the season, he wasn't just going to sit there and do nothing ... was he?
Towards 1 PM EST the news hit, Montreal made the first trade of the day.
The anticipation grew, the browsers started to furiously refresh and Habs fans held their breath as they waited to see who their general manager managed to acquire at the deadline.
It was Mike Weaver.
Mike freaking Weaver.
"Who?" was the prevailing sentiment. Some remembered Weaver as a plucky defenseman, who had a history of throwing big hits, although the majority of fans were uncertain what, if anything, he could bring to the team.
At first glance this was low impact trade. Although for the cost it seemed like a smart move:
If Weaver slots into the right side on the third pairing, and Tinordi moves to his natural side, this trade is a major win. *IF*— Marc Dumont (@Dr_Habs) March 4, 2014
I was cautiously optimistic about the acquisition. Of course, this was before we knew Josh Gorges would be forced to miss the majority of the remaining season due to a fractured hand. As a back-up option, Weaver seemed like a good fit.
Fast forward to early April. Not only is Mike Weaver contributing with smart defensive positioning, rough and tumble play and great penalty killing skills, but he can't seem to stop showing up on the score sheet either.
In his 55 games with the Florida Panthers this year Mike Weaver produced zero goals and six assists, combined with a -9 rating, which is actually fairly decent considering the defensive woes of the Panthers. With Montreal, Weaver has exploded for a goal and six assists in 14 games, with a deliciously inflated +11 to boot.
His cost? A fifth-round pick in an extremely weak draft year. The bonus? Montreal acquired a fifth-round pick in the Vanek trade, essentially meaning that Marc Bergevin managed to snatch not only one of the best offensive weapons available on the market in Vanek, but added a defensive stalwart in Weaver for the low cost of a second rounder and Sebastian Collberg.
A real coup, by any stretch of the imagination. Bergevin correctly identified two glaring issues the Habs were suffering from, and solved them for a relatively cheap cost, especially considering prices are generally quite high on deadline day.
The focus will definitely be on Thomas Vanek as the playoffs approach, however I submit to you that Mike Weaver was the smartest acquisition from Bergevin and co. during the deadline.
His hockey IQ seems to be his greatest asset. Although I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to endorsing defensemen diving to block a shot, Weaver calculates his blocks perfectly, and it has even led to some high-quality scoring chances.
Not to mention he packs quite a punch for someone who is generously listed as 5'10" on NHL.com
Albeit it's a small sample size, I feel reasonably confident in saying that Mike Weaver would be the best veteran option for Montreal this off-season, as opposed to entertaining the thought of extending either Francis Bouillon or Douglas Murray.
Considering Weaver never commanded over $1.1M in any of his NHL contracts, it's safe to assume his re-signing fee would be reasonable, pending the term.
In today's NHL it's imperative to find good value for your bottom pairing or depth players, and Mike Weaver not only brings good value, but excels in his position despite his small stature.
The best part is that not only does Weaver bring quantifiable assets to the table, but he checks all the 'character requirements' that GM Marc Bergevin tends to concentrate on. Essentially, he's the perfect fit for the bottom pairing next year, pending the progression of the Tinordi and Beaulieu.
Don't be surprised if Mike Weaver is back with the team next year. In fact, you should be hoping he is, as he's likely to continue contributing as a stabilizing force, to what is otherwise a fairly unstable defense. Don't expect him to keep putting up points, that won't happen, but expect him to bring a very reliable playing style that a team like Montreal not only needs, but lacks dearly. He's not a game changer, and he won't show up in very many highlight videos, but that's not a reasonable expectation from a third-pairing defenseman.
The main issue at hand will be his age, seeing as Weaver is soon to be a 36-year-old, however if he's willing to sign a one-year deal, the Habs should jump at the opportunity.