After consulting a specialist in Wisconsin today, Shea Weber will be out for the next four to six weeks with an ankle sprain. The Montreal Canadiens announced today that the veteran defenseman is expected to fully recover.
That kind of a diagnosis actually probably comes as a relief to the team and fans alike after rumors had swirled all day that Weber could be facing a more long-term injury. The Montreal captain has obviously dealt with several serious injuries over the last few years, including missing most of the 2017-18 season.
This new ailment brought up discussions of Weber’s contract and whether he will be able to play out the remaining years, given his recent health issues and aging body. The defenseman will turn 35 this summer but still has six seasons left on the 14-year, $110MM deal he signed with the Nashville Predators in 2012. Because of the structure of that deal, the Predators could face massive recapture penalties if Weber were to retire early. Injury however, could be a solution.
If Weber instead goes on long-term injured reserve at some point for the rest of his contract, the Predators won’t have to deal with those recapture penalties. Even if he does recover fully from this latest injury, it seems likely that that the end of Weber’s career will be spent on LTIR.
For now though, losing arguably their best skater for the next month may be a death sentence for the Canadiens. The team had been playing well of late and was barely hanging on to some playoff hopes, but without their on-ice and off-ice leader it will be hard to keep up in the Atlantic Division. The team is seven points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final divisional spot, despite having played one extra game.