Monday, September 29, 2008

Yannick Weber: Swiss Cheese Without The Holes

One of the most surprising revelations of the 2008 Montreal Canadiens training camp has been the play of Swiss born Yannick Weber.

Who, you might ask?

Weber might best be known as the Kitchener Rangers star pointman over the past couple of seasons. He might also be known to those in the hockey coulisses as the captain of the Switzerland entry in the last World Junior Championship tournament.

Current Florida Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, and former Rangers bench boss calls Weber the best OHL defenseman of the past season. For the record, that statement by DeBoer was made prior to Weber scoring the tying goal against DeBoer's Panthers last evening.

Had Weber not been recovering from injuries at the time, he might have led the heavily favored Kitchener squad to a Memorial Cup championship. Heck, with a little break, he might have been the lucky candidate fortunate enough to snap the Memorial Cup in two.

All told, Weber had a great say in why the Kitchener boys were heavily favored in the first place.

The Montreal Canadiens have both a recent and long standing affiliation with Swiss born players. Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat, a duo who saw to it that the Canadiens would snag Stanley Cups in 1924, 1930, and 1931, were one generation removed from Swiss born parents.

And all along you guessed they were "Flying Frenchmen"!

More recent Swiss affiliations to Habs lore have included goalie David "I've got the pin, where's the grenade?" Aebischer and defenseman Mark Streit. While you surely don't want to recall Aebischer fondly from two seasons ago, the man who was a keg of gunpowder to the Habs goaltending woes then, now stops pucks somewhere in the hockey ozone.

Mark Streit on the other hand, was pure gold for the Habs. In three seasons with the club, Streit's role expanded from seldom used defender, to utility wingman, and finally to PP QB last season. His stats were testosterone induced by contributions from the likes of Alex Kovalev and Andrei Markov.

Streit, after his career year of close to 70 points, then became as cursed as he was blessed. In free agency, he became a New York Islander, a reward akin to kissing Megan Fox and waking up next to Bea Arthur.

























Weber in all this, if often compared to Streit, but the deal doesn't hold water. Weber is and will be a much sounder player.

Purely, the comaprison is nothing but a Swiss thing. Weber's shot is more accurate, he plays sounder defense, his size doesn't seem to be a liability, and he doesn't have that chickenshit scared french painter look about him that Streit had.

Four exhibition games into an NHL lifetime of course, does not make a career, but by all reports, Weber has positioned himself within these contests as the next Canadiens defenseman to make the bigs. He'd be positioned at number seven on the Canadiens depth chart were it not for human gasket Patrice Brisebois serving once again as placeholder and stunter of development for the likes of Weber and P.K. Subban.

What bodes well for the Canadiens, is that the case of an extreme emergency - a long term injury to a defender - Weber is ready to move up and assume the role.

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5 comments:

Dave said...

were it not for human gasket Patrice Brisebois serving once again as placeholder and stunter of development for the likes of Weber and P.K. Subban.

Robert, this point I definitively disagree with. In my opinion, Weber and Subban (also Valentenko and any other defensive prospect we have in the pipeline) are better served getting plenty of icetime in the AHL rather then play maybe 1 out of 5 matches as the 7th defenceman. If I want to see our young guys develop, they must be playing significant icetime on the 3rd pairing as a 5th-6th defenceman and then let them mature on ice (ala Gorges).

Breezer, on the other hand, is an old vet who showed us last season will sit in the press box for prolonged stretches without ever making a fuss. Better still, having Breezer on spot duty keeps him fresh and limits his mistakes. As a spart part, I will take the seasoned vet any day, even if it is Breezer.

Jeff said...

Robert i agree 100 percent on the breezer thing. I'll take Weber over at least three of our "experienced" defenceman. How experienced was Ryan O'byrne, How experienced was Francoise Beuchemin when he won a cup with Anaheim, how experienced was Chris Letang with Pittsburg, give me a break on all this experienced is better garbage. The new NHL is all about speed and youth and Weber is all that and more. I have been praising him on other blog sites for a year and finally someone agrees. The kid has the hardest shot i've ever seen for a kid his age and the accuarcy is almost super human. So what, leave him in Hamilton simply beacuse he's young, because he might make a mistake or possibly several in our centennial year? He'll make many mistakes and learn from them but i guarantee he's already a better defencive player than half the roster and his puck moving surpasses Boullion, O'byrne, Jorges and Hamrlik. The goals he has scored against established NHL goalies who are fighting for pride and the right to lead thier respective teams were big league goals worthy of a shot at the roster. If Weber doesn't see ice time this season i will be extremely surprised and dissapointed in Gainey.

Topham said...

"Purely, the comaprison is nothing but a Swiss thing. Weber's shot is more accurate, he plays sounder defense, his size doesn't seem to be a liability, and he doesn't have that chickenshit scared french painter look about him that Streit had."


A bit harsh on Streit there Robert. I think we'll see how good he was pretty soon. I'm not talking about when we play the Islanders on Roy night. Streit's puck control on the PP cannot be replaced by what I've seen thus far.

It's a romantic idea that his defence was terrible. Makes the pill of losing him so much easier to swallow. In my opinion, he was moved to forward because of lack of depth up front (Ryder and Dandenault's failings) and O'Byrne and Gorges progression at the back.

You are right about Brisebois. If the only excuse we have left to keep him around is that he doesn't complain while earning 10+ years of my annual earnings for watching hockey without complaining, then I think he has overstayed his welcome, don't you?

Robert L said...

Topham, Streit was moved up to forward two season ago when Ryder scored 30 goals and Dandy was still on D. Aside from his PP point work, Streit was never in the picture on defense. He played there mostly in his rookie season, when injuries opened a spot for. His excellent attitude and puck moving skills opened up oportunities for him up front while still partaking the PP. On the Habs he was a 7th D at best, and a 13th forward.

Number31 said...

Quote-machine Subban says he learned he could play at this level and that, while it's fast, it's easier because everyone is in the right position. But the AHL is good to see how strong they can last playing almost NHL-players in a similar schedule. I saw them both play, and they were fantastic, even trying to work around their mistakes (but the bonus was they noticed the mistakes themselves). Subban and Weber: Habs Powerplay 2010.