The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed Yannick Weber to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level, placing him on waivers immediately in order for him to report directly to the taxi squad or minor leagues. Pittsburgh has been dealing with several injuries on the back end, while Weber had not earned a contract from his professional tryout with the Nashville Predators. Jacob Middleton of the San Jose Sharks has also been placed on waivers, according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic.
The Penguins have seen nearly every left-shot defenseman on their depth chart injured through the first part of the season, including Brian Dumoulin who left last night’s game and did not appear at practice today. John Marino, who has shown the ability to play both sides in his young career, was also missing at practice, necessitating a move like the signing of Weber, even if he’s not an ideal replacement.
Now 32, Weber comes with 497 regular season NHL games under his belt but hasn’t averaged more than 14:01 a night since the 2015-16 season. In Nashville, where he has spent the last four seasons, he was relegated to spot duty on the bottom pairing, sheltered against weaker opponents. Experience at the highest level is one thing, but it’s hard to imagine him being a true fix for the problems in Pittsburgh.
Middleton meanwhile has been leapfrogged by several other defensemen in San Jose, most notably 22-year-old Nikolai Knyzhov who has shown pretty well in the first part of the season. The 25-year-old Middleton will likely be assigned to the taxi squad if he clears, which seems likely given he has just 14 games of NHL experience under his belt. Perhaps a needy team like Pittsburgh would take a chance, but there’s certainly no guarantee that he can even be a full-time player at the highest level.