The Hockey Writers Nashville Predators staff writer Colin Fitts will evaluate the performance of each player on the 2014-15 Predators roster every weekday in alphabetical order. You can follow Colin on Twitter, @FittsTHW.
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 233 lbs
Stat Line: 78 GP, 15 G, 30 A, 45 PTS, +15 +/-, 72 PIM, 166 hits, 147 blocked shots, 26:22 AVG TOI
Playoffs Stat Line: 2 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PTS, 0 +/-, 2 PIM, 7 hits, 5 blocked shots, 25:49 AVG TOI
*Points at Home vs Away: Home – 11 G, 13 A | Away – 4 G, 17 A
*Giveaway/Takeaway Correlation: 53 giveaways, 23 takeaways
Contract Status: 11 years remaining on a 14-year, $110 million contract ($7,857,142 cap hit in 2014-15)
Highlight of the Year: Shea Weber won the Hardest Shot competition for the first time in his career on Jan. 24. His 108.5 mph clapper was just 0.3 mph shy from the record set by Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins in 2012.
Strengths: There are many great captains in the NHL, and Weber is undoubtedly among the top five best. Last season as captain of one of the youngest defense corps in the league (23.8 years old), Weber led the Predators to the playoffs for the first time in three years. Weber is a dominant force on both sides of the puck. His fifteen goals, most of which came from his unstoppable slap-shot, tied for sixth among all defensemen. Many of Weber’s goals would come at clutch times, as four of his goals were game-tying goals and nine gave Nashville a lead. On the defensive side, Weber’s 166 hits was a team best and placed in the top 25 among all defensemen. Of course, a player like Weber with superb leadership skills and extraordinary talent is going to log a lot of ice time. Since 2010-11, he has played the second most minutes in the NHL. Last season, he ranked fifth in average time on ice among all skaters at 26:22.
Weaknesses: It is hard to find a flaw in Weber’s game, but he is not the best puck-handler. Weber had the highest giveaway total on the team at 53. Luckily, his lack of puck-handling skills is cancelled out by his sidekick Roman Josi, who is one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the game today.
What to Expect Next Season: At some point, Weber is going to win a Norris Trophy. Last season, he did not deserve it with his offensive production dipping eleven points from the previous season. If Weber can hit 60 points next season, the Norris is his. Look for Weber to get his long-awaited award next year.
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Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.