When the Nashville Predators released their training camp roster on Saturday, there was a familiar yet surprising name included on the list. Veteran defenseman Yannick Weber, who has donned a Nashville sweater for the past four years, will be back with the team in camp. However, it will not be in a contractual capacity for the season. The free agent defender will compete for a roster spot and thereby an extension while playing on a PTO agreement.
Weber, 32, is another example of a solid veteran player who has been left without options by this off-season’s flat cap market. While Weber is no offensive dynamo, he has built a long NHL career off of being a sound, reliable defensive player who works especially well as a plug-and-play depth option. Although some may not think of Weber as a surefire starter, he has quietly played in over 70% of Nashville’s games over the past four years as a regular in one of the league’s best defense corps. Weber has at least earned the right to prove he can still be an effective player and Nashville knows better than anyone that he is worth a look.
The problem though is that the Predators have all but replaced Weber’s role this off-season. The team re-hauled its bottom pair in free agency with the additions of Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning, two similar defensive-minded blue liners. The team also has promising prospect Jeremy Davies waiting in the wings and an already-large group of experienced depth options in Jarred Tinordi, Ben Harpur, Tyler Lewington, and Alexandre Carrier. Weber is arguably a better option than many of these players but he is unlikely to unseat Borowiecki and Benning as a starter and would likely battle Tinordi or Davies to be the next man up as well. While the taxi squad offers some expanded opportunities for depth this season and could be an ideal spot for Weber, his PTO does not necessarily imply that a contract is eventually guaranteed.