The Nashville Predators may have five points from their first five games of the season, but they sit fourth in the Central Division after losing three games in shootouts in the first week of the 2013 NHL season.
The team lost defenseman Ryan Suter to free agency in the offseason, but matched the Philadelphia Flyers’ offer sheet and retained the services of defenseman and captain Shea Weber, albeit at a hefty price.
Weber, who has been an offensive defenseman throughout his career, has not yet registered a point for the Predators. In fact, the only stats he has managed this season are 11 penalty minutes, including a fight against the Columbus Blue Jackets‘ Jared Boll in the season opener. The team ranks 26th in goals scored, averaging just two a game, and they clearly miss the offense they used to be able to count on from their defense. Weber scored 19 goals and added 30 assists last season, his second-best point production in his NHL career. He finished fourth on the team in scoring, while Suter was fifth. If he hopes to justify his hefty contract this season, the team needs at least 40 points out of him.
The team’s defense has performed well in their own end, allowing the eighth fewest goals in the league and landing in the middle of the pack in penalty kill percentage. Give Weber some credit for that, as he works with youngsters Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Jonathon Blum. The Predators obviously wanted to keep Weber around for a long time, and have great faith in his leadership abilities. If they hope to return to the playoffs this season, Weber needs to step up his game and lead the team by example at both ends of the ice.