The next guy in the order is one of just 15 active Swiss players in the NHL (three of whom came up through the Predators' system). Yannick Weber was brought to Nashville in the wake of the P.K. Subban-Shea Weber (they are not related) trade in June of 2016 to bolster the team's depth at defense.
Weber is no head-turner. His most memorable moment in four years with the Preds was probably when he scored the game-winning goal against Washington this year on Jan. 29. In 12 NHL seasons, Weber has yet to play a full, 82-game schedule. The closest he's come, as a matter of fact, was when he played 73 games in his first season with Nashville in 2016-17.
Drafted by Montreal in the third round of the 2007 NHL Draft, Weber spent six years with the organization and totaled just 32 points and a -14 on-ice rating in a Habs uniform. Weber's arguably most successful tenure was his three-year stint in Vancouver, where he recorded a career-best 11 goals and 21 points in the 2014-15 season. The defenseman's four years in Nashville have rendered only 24 points, but a +9 rating.
Much like fellow Preds defenseman Dan Hamhuis, Weber does not offer much in terms of a forecheck. In four seasons as a Predator, Weber has found the back of the net just six times. Weber is on pace to finish the 2019-20 season with the worst numbers of his career (in seasons he's played at least 40 games), recording one goal and just two assists while simultaneously averaging the most ice-time he's seen since the 2015-16 season in Vancouver.
This season, the only other player in the entire league to play more minutes than Weber and have fewer points is Montreal's Cale Fleury, who has just one goal to his name in 2019-20.
Touted for his hard slapshot is his prospect days, Weber's cannon has all but lost its effectiveness since coming to Nashville. Ironic, considering the former Weber to don a Preds sweater- Shea Weber- is now firing his signature bombs for the team that drafted the Preds' current Weber- Yannick Weber.
Unlike his offensive game, Weber's defensive game actually improved upon signing with his first American NHL team. Over the course of his five fledgling Montreal years, Weber averaged a mediocre -14 on-ice rating. After that, Weber went -20 in three seasons as a Canuck. Coming south of the border, if you will, helped Weber clean up his backcheck. He is now averaging a +9 rating for the first time in his career (Weber is, however, -1 in this season alone).
On the other hand, Weber's Corsi numbers have remained steadily subpar for the entirety of his career. Finishing the season with a 52.4 percent rating, 2018-19 was the first time Weber recorded a positive Corsi rating since 2013-14 with the Canucks. Weber's highest career season rating came as a Canadien in 2010-11: just 53.8 percent. He has since fallen back into the mid-forties, defending the Preds' zone more than he's catalyzing an escape from it.
GENERAL EFFECTIVENESS AND TEAM INFLUENCE
Weber and Hamhuis are extremely similar on the ice, yet Weber lacks the senior leadership role that makes Hamhuis so key to the Preds. Weber's impact primarily lies where he is unseen and unheard- biding time on the ice for his fellow countryman to catch his breath. His purpose when he was brought to Nashville was to positively affect third and fourth-line defensive tandems, and Weber satisfies that.
When Kevin Fiala was still in Nashville, the Preds basically had a monopoly on Swiss NHL players with Weber, Fiala, and Josi all sporting gold sweaters. All three of them (Fiala as a member of the Wild) played for Switzerland in last year's IIHF World Championship tournament, where they took eighth place. Weber and Josi helped win a bronze medal for Switzerland at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
2019-20 SEASON GRADE: D+