It is no secret that Nashville Predators captain and star defenseman Shea Weber has not done much for the team so far this season.
In the wake of losing Ryan Suter to free agency the Predators made sure Weber stayed thanks to a very large contract, which he has yet to play up to. Youngster Ryan Ellis is developing into a solid blueliner in Nashville, but it is veteran Kevin Klein who has stepped up so far, picking up the slack for Weber on the offensive end and leading the team with a plus-5 rating.
Klein had the best season of his career in 2011-12, as he scored four goals and reached 21 points in just 66 games. He has continued to improve for the Predators, and leads the team’s defensemen in scoring with a goal and four assists.
The loss of Suter hurt this team, but Klein is doing his best to make fans and management realize there were other skilled defenseman there all along.
Paired with Roman Josi, he has been a solid performer for the team in all situations this season. Klein has merely nine shots on goal this season, so who knows what he can do if he starts seeing more chances in the offensive zone. The Predators currently find themselves dead last in the league in goals per game, averaging less than two per contest. If they hope to keep winning games, getting Ellis and Klein more chances on the power play can only help things.
For all their offensive struggles, the Predators have won four of their last six games thanks to stellar defensive play. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has been lights out, the penalty kill is 10th in the league, and the Predators are allowing the fewest goals per game of any team in the NHL. They might not be winning pretty, but a 1-0 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks gets them as many points in the standings as a 6-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.
Weber can’t be this bad for an entire season (can he?), and it’s a good thing the Predators have Klein and others who have stepped their game up in the meantime.