Weber in perspective

With the arrival of Craig Rivet essentially replacing Dmitri Kalinin on the Sabres blueline, GM Darcy Regier yesterday suggested that his club is still looking at bringing Teppo Numminen back for one more season of NHL action. The argument of quality blueline depth will always make sense to Sabres fans. Bringing Numminen back at a reasonable price would accomplish that, but one should wonder if the dollars need to be spent given the fact that Maxim Afinogenov and his $3.5MM salary (3.3 cap) are still idling on the roster. As is, the financially responsible Regier would be wise to wait until training camp to further evaluate his defensive corps and really find out if Teppo is needed. The "wait" isn't all about the dollars. It's about icing your best team. If Andrej Sekera has advanced himself into Buffalo's top-6 ahead of current #7 Nathan Paetsch, it would seem that a Numminen signing would automatically send 21-year old rearguard Mike Weber to Portland (AHL) to start. Weber played well in his 16 games with Buffalo last season, averaging 16:40 of ice time while topping all blueliners with a +12 rating. The healthy bodies of Rivet, Henrik Tallinder, Jaroslav Spacek, and Toni Lydman could indeed mean that Weber's greatest amount of ice time would be had in the AHL. However, the organization as a whole needs to ice their six best defensemen every night in the NHL. Weber's brief audition revealed a guy who was just about there, and you can bet he'll be ready to fight for it moving forward. On the surface, Weber is still young and developing. He emerged as a leader early during his first season with Rochester in 2007-08, mixing responsible play with a little old time hockey to set the pace in the Amerks +/- and PIM columns. Adding him to the group of Mike Funk, Mike Card, Mike Kostka, Chris Butler, and apparently Marc-Andre Gragnani (we still prefer him as a LW) makes the Portland blueline crop more formidable and experienced. At the same time, re-signing Nolan Pratt primarily for AHL duty could offer leadership on the farm, and a chance for Weber to continue growing with the big club. With improved footwork making him more effective at both ends, he's big enough and strong enough to make it happen in camp this fall. The below puts Weber's immediate NHL impact into perspective more than anything else.
2007-08 Top 5 D-men in hits/game* Mike Komisarek - 3.55 (75 gp) Brooks Orpik - 3.07 (78 gp) Zdeno Chara - 2.89 (77 gp) Mike Weber - 2.81 (16 gp) Stephane Robidas - 2.68 (82 gp) *players who appeared in more than one game
Taking it all in, the usually patient Sabres are going to have a hard time sending Weber to Portland if his physical play reflects his first 16 games. Numminen has been an admirable performer for the Sabres, but Buffalo is a blue collar town in need of a blue collar D.
Previous
Next Post »

13 comments

Click here for comments
Alex
admin
Sunday, July 06, 2008 ×

What are your thoughts on the Rivet trade?

Reply
avatar
Kris Baker
admin
Sunday, July 06, 2008 ×

The Rivet deal works out well. He adds the needed elements of veteran steadiness and toughness to the Sabres back end. He's under contract for three seasons, so he's a transitional guy once the Spacek, Tallinder, and Lydman deals play out. He's a real good guy for Weber and Butler to learn from, too, and it should put Paetsch back into the "Rory" spot while the youngsters develop on the farm. I think it'll work out well.

Reply
avatar
BGM
admin
Sunday, July 06, 2008 ×

It's funny how this Teppo-Weber connundrum is both a win-win and a lose-lose.

Sign Teppo, add a ton of vet leadership to the NHL team, and Weber gets boku icetime in Portland as a legit top pairing guy.

OR

Don't sign Teppo, lose that vet leadership, Weber sticks with the NHL team [hopefully] .......


I totally lost my train of thought. It was a good one, though.

Reply
avatar
Kris Baker
admin
Sunday, July 06, 2008 ×

All I'm saying is that Weber is basically "ready" despite his youth, and his style is needed much more than Teppo's. A risk I'm willing to take...

Reply
avatar
Anonymous
admin
Monday, July 07, 2008 ×

Agree on Weber-Teppo. If u sign Teppo, that knocks Weber out & I think that's a ridiculous thing to do cuz Weber is ready & his style IS more needed. Paetsch being our #7 d-man isn't so bad.

Reply
avatar
bring_back_palffy
admin
Monday, July 07, 2008 ×

Like the commentary on Weber's readiness. He played well last year and, even when he was just kind of hovering around looking menacing, he was easily the biggest physical presence at rookie camp. Love the site!

Reply
avatar
Anonymous
admin
Monday, July 07, 2008 ×

that's another thing about his presence...you really notice him out there. he skates hard & showed leadership among the rookies in camp. i think his toughness causes his offensive ability to get overshadowed a little bit. he moves up the ice pretty well w/ Sekera & wasn't afraid to join the rush last year w/ or w/out Sekera; he's a force at breaking up plays & good at getting the puck up ice, or getting the puck to Sekera for him to carry the puck up ice cuz he's a little better at. I don't see how u can break up that pairing next year, so I hope we don't sign any other defensemen this offseason that might jeopardize Weber's chances of starting next season... but I'm fine w/ trading Toni-Turnover.

Reply
avatar
bring_back_palffy
admin
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 ×

Agreed on Lydman. Is anybody still buying him as a top-4 D-man? And what evidence do we have to support this idea that he makes Tallinder better? I think it's the opposite. Tallinder for all of his one-on-one talent and vision could use a hardy, stay-at-home partner, not a less skilled version of himself.
Weber reminds me a lot of Orpik in that he's tough and an underrated skater. Like Orpik, though, he seems like an average passer at best and not exactly ahead of the game in terms of offensive vision.
I'm probably a little too excited for my own good about Sekera in this and future years.

Reply
avatar
BGM
admin
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 ×

I can't believe there's doubt about Lydman's status as a top-4 NHL d-man. That's amazing. Wow....

Reply
avatar
Anonymous
admin
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 ×

Of course Lydman is in our top 4, but do I want him there...no. I agree Tallinder could use a neew partner. Our defense was terrible last year because Tallinder & Lydman in particular weren't doing so well. Tallinder's injuries are causing him to be afraid of getting hit & Lydman's turnovers are getting worse. Even when Lydman & Tallinder were at their best, Lydman still had the tendancy of trying to make those long passes up ice & would often get picked off. His turnovers last year were even worse, cuz most of them were in his own end & I remember a few in overtime. Some games last year I hated Lydman more than Kalinin. I hope Tallinder builds up like he said he was gonna & I don't mind parting ways w/ Lydman, but we probably won't. In a perfect world, some of our prospect defensemen put on a good show next year or see enough playing time so we consider replacing Lydman faster. I like Funk, & I like what I saw from Butler & Koska in camp, even Card stood out to me in camp. Butler's our next big thing on defense. Expect a defensemen signing frenzy next summer w/ Brennan, Schiestel, & Biega.

Reply
avatar
Anonymous
admin
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 ×

hey Bakes, any thoughts on who might get called up & see the NHL this season? I'm assuming if Paestch is our #7, Butler would be next in line, would u agree? Who might come after that? Funk, Koska? The same with forwards, who do expect to get called up? Gragnani, Gerbe, Kennedy? I know the player's proficiency during the season would help determine that, but if u could rank them right now, what prospects do u think get a crack at the NHL this coming season?

Reply
avatar
Anonymous
admin
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 ×

hey Bakes, any thoughts on who might get called up & see the NHL this season? I'm assuming if Paestch is our #7, Butler would be next in line, would u agree? Who might come after that? Funk, Koska? The same with forwards, who do expect to get called up? Gragnani, Gerbe, Kennedy? I know the player's proficiency during the season would help determine that, but if u could rank them right now, what prospects do u think get a crack at the NHL this coming season?

Reply
avatar
relentless
admin
Thursday, July 10, 2008 ×

I think it's important for the Sabres to sign Teppo to a one year deal with the intent of playing him 40-50 games this year. He's a perfect fit for this team and it's quite reasonable to think he can step right in and play well after sitting for some time. Let's not forget how young Weber really is, young D generally stumble through some tough stretches, especially during their first/second year in the bigs. I'd much rather have Teppo step in to ease the pressure on Webber, than call another young D up from Portland...the Sabres will be able to retain his leadership value to the young guys, especially Sekera.

Reply
avatar