There are many facets to consider when looking at the block buster trade that Habs’ GM Marc Bergevin has completed this summer and most so-called experts and bloggers around the internet have pretty much touched on all of them. From the departure of beloved Subban, going from surprise, to frustration and now coming around to realising that the guy they got in return isn’t just “an average defenseman”, to borrow some analytics “expert” opinion…
While Shea Weber broke into the NHL with the Nashville Predators the same year as Ryan Suter did, back in the 2005-2006 season, it is hard to tell who made whom the defenseman that they are today. One thing that we know though is that Weber, with his physical and intimidating play, has been a pretty good insurance policy for Suter who didn’t have to look twice over his shoulder, knowing that his teammate had his back.
Many people thought that we would see Weber’s true value, expecting a drop in his production, when Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent. With the exception of the lockout season, which saw Suter get four more points than Weber, it’s the Predator’s defenseman who has had the upper-hand on his former pairing partner since then. Still, his team continued to climb in the standings and were considered last year as a contender in the Western Conference, especially after knocking out the number one seed Anaheim Ducks.
Another young Predators’ defenseman has greatly benefited from Weber’s play, leadership and teaching since breaking into the NHL back in 2012-2013 and you may have heard of him: Roman Josi. You can bet that while he is an outstanding young defenseman, Josi will be the first one to notice his departure and to miss Weber. Wait, correct that… he will be second to goaltender Pekka Rinne!
Nathan Beaulieu is a young defenseman who has shown flashes of brilliance in the past two seasons with the Canadiens. At 23 years old (will turn 24 in December), he has unfortunately made more headlines with his off-ice partying pictures than he has on the ice but that might change this season. For one, Devante Smith-Pelly is gone. For two, Alex Galchenyuk has dumped his bimbo and seems poised to take the next step. Then, good buddy ol’ pal P.K. Subban is gone and that might just serve as a wake-up call for the young defender who was also rumoured to be offered in a trade for some offense. As long as he doesn’t fight in the bars alongside… his dad!
Everyone around the league knows that Beaulieu has everything to be successful. At 6-foot 2-inches and 205 lbs, he has the size and the grit to battle in the NHL. He also possesses NHL speed as a smooth skater and has a boomer of a shot, with some very good offensive flair. And that’s what team captain Max Pacioretty sees in him as well, as he pointed out at his golf tournament this summer:
It’s time for Beaulieu to shine. He was our best player at times last year and we want to see him back to that level right from the start. It’s time for him to showcase his great talent. (Source: RDS)
Seeing a quality player and rock solid defenseman like Weber with the team, he should have for personal objective to prove head coach Michel Therrien that he wants to be paired up with him. And if he has worked out like he should this summer, nobody would be happier than Therrien to put the Canadiens first round pick in 2011 (17th overall) in that position of success. It will be up to him to seize his opportunity to show, like Suter and Josi did before him, what he’s truly made of. He would have never been playing regularly with Subban, let’s face it.