The Montreal Canadiens have been hit with injury after injury that will take several players out for the beginning of the 2018-19 season. What they didn’t need was another surgery for one of their best players, and yet today announced that Shea Weber will be out for five to six months. Weber underwent knee surgery to repair a meniscal tear on June 19th, and will be out until mid-December. The team had already announced earlier this offseason that Paul Byron would miss six months after shoulder surgery, prospect Joni Ikonen needs six months to come back from a knee injury, and Andrew Shaw won’t be ready for the start of the season due to his own knee surgery in April.
While all three of those prior injury updates hurt, the Weber news is crushing for the Canadiens as they try to bounce back in 2018-19. The team struggled tremendously without Weber in the lineup last season, and simply don’t have anyone on the roster who can provide the kind of impact expected of him. The blue line will have to rely on veterans like Karl Alzner and Jeff Petry, while hoping young Victor Mete and Noah Juulsen can make an impact right away. Weber will be 33 when he makes his return, and played just 26 games last season while dealing with a foot injury.
The Canadiens maintain that they’re trying to make the playoffs this season, and goaltender Carey Price is just entering his eight-year $84MM contract extension. Still, after holding onto the third-overall pick to take Jesperi Kotkaniemi and with rumors persisting about a potential Max Pacioretty trade, the team seems to be headed into a sort of mini-rebuild. After spending very little on the free agent market—bringing back Tomas Plekanec on a $3.5MM performance bonus-laden deal was their biggest commitment—the team still has nearly $13MM in cap space with some restricted free agents left to sign.
The most frustrated in the whole situation is likely Weber, who last played on December 16th, 2017 meaning it may be an entire year before he’s back on the ice for Montreal. That’s an enormous weight to carry when earning a huge salary, though as of this season the Canadiens financial burden did reduce some. Weber is owed just $6MM this season and $30MM over the next eight years, despite carrying a cap hit of just under $7.86MM through 2025-26.