Should the Flames claim Yannick Weber off of waivers?

With the news that T.J. Brodie is good to go, the Flames still have a fully healthy roster: something they’ve only had since just after the All-Star Break. Brodie is probably the most important player to this team, so his not being injured is an extremely good thing.

That leaves the Flames still with 23 healthy and not-suspended bodies. Considering how overly expensive some of them are, there’s little room for any roster maneuvering. Normally, that isn’t a problem – except when the waiver wire, on occasion, provides a gift.

The Vancouver Canucks have waived Yannick Weber, and as a 27-year-old upcoming UFA with a $1.5 million cap hit now available for free, he could potentially be such a gift.

Why is he on waivers?

As Canucks Army explains in the link above, with Dan Hamhuis’ impending return, Vancouver needs to make room for him on the roster. To that end, they’ve chosen Weber as their sacrificial lamb, and it seems Canucks fans aren’t too happy about it. (Right off the bat, that’s one reason to claim him; but of course, there has to be more to things than annoying a fanbase.)

Weber has averaged 19:10 a game for the Canucks this season, a new career high for him. He’s only scored five assists all year, though – a far cry from last season, when he scored 11 goals and 21 points through 65 games. He shot at a relatively high (for him, and for defencemen) 9.4 shooting percentage (his career average is 5.4%), so a drop off in goals wouldn’t have been unexpected, but to fail to score entirely this season was probably unlikely. He had 117 shots on net last season – 1.8 per game – and his 56 this season puts him at 1.6 per game, so there isn’t much of a drop off there at all.

However, all five of Weber’s assists this season have come on the power play. Through the 35 games he’s played, he has yet to register a single point at even strength. It’s not as though he’s completely reliant on the power play to put up points – five of his goals and eight total points came on the power play for him last year, leaving him with 52% of his 2014-15 numbers coming in at even strength – but he still isn’t someone you can count on for scoring.

He’s a depth guy. But at $1.5 million, he’s a much cheaper depth guy than Deryk Engelland or Ladislav Smid – and maybe better, too.

Where would he fit in on the Flames?

Via War on Ice:

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An important distinction from the usual War on Ice charts: the colours are measured in 5v5 CF% rather than 5v5 CF% rel, so we can judge Weber not relative to his own teammates, which would be irrelevant in a Flames context, but on par with the rest of the NHL – and with that, the Flames.

And essentially, he looks like a slightly better version of Dennis Wideman. He gets more offensive zone starts – Wideman was already the most sheltered defenceman on the Flames, and Weber would take it up a notch – with better possession rates (a 48.54% CF as opposed to Wideman’s 44.78%).

Weber has played 94:41 on the Canucks’ power play this season, sixth in total ice time, and second out of all Vancouver defencemen. So he really would be a Wideman replacement, but without the scoring. Twenty-one points was Weber’s career high, but this season Wideman has 19 points, and this is considered a bad year for him.

But at least pucks don’t go against him quite as much. Though considering his advantage in zone starts, one should hope not; then again, that hope hasn’t exactly panned out with Wideman. 

Will the Flames claim him?

Probably not.

Would it be a good move to take Weber over Wideman? Yes, but the reasons why aren’t logical with a waivers claim. Weber is five years younger than Wideman, nearly $4 million cheaper on the cap, and set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. On-ice, he may or may not be an upgrade, depending on just how much you value possession rates versus actual production. 

But all of the big reasons you’d want Weber over Wideman are contractual. This isn’t a one-for-one trade, though; this is a waivers claim. Picking up Weber does nothing regarding Wideman’s contract.

If Wideman were to be traded, that would be another story, but that has yet to happen.

It might make sense as the Flames, technically, do need a Wideman replacement – what with his being suspended and all – except for one important factor named Jakub Nakladal.

Nakladal, a 28-year-old unrestricted free agent from Europe looking to make his NHL debut has yet to actually make said debut. He chose to sign with the Flames over other bidders, and has, thus far, played 35 games in Stockton to show for it. After years of play in the Czech League as well as the KHL, that – and a couple of exciting trips to a real NHL press box! – is all he has to show thus far for his North American experience.

Claiming Weber and then likely sending down Nakladal (Markus Granlund would be another demotion possibility, but it’s unlikely for a team to carry eight defencemen and 13 forwards) would be a massive slap in the face to a player still being forced to put in his dues. And if you were an unrestricted free agent – maybe another older player like Nakladal, or maybe even a kid like Artemi Panarin or Nikita Zaitsev – would you really want to take your chances on your NHL debut with a team that acts like that?

For a marginal upgrade on a suspended player in a year the Flames should be looking develop their own prospects, claiming Weber would not be a particularly prudent move.

    • KACaribou

      I didn’t read the article either. I read the headline and thought it was nearly the most ridiculous thing Ari has written in oh… a month.

      The Flames have the same chance of listening to Ari on this one as:

      1) Johnny Hockey has of NOT starting an interview question with “Yeah,…”

      or

      2) Sean Monahan has of NOT using the word “obviously” during a 2 minute interview.

      I quote Cralk, Parallex, and RKD when I say “NO!”

      (Oh, and how did we lose the draw and end up with PJ Stock doing Flames games between periods. HE F@#KING HATES THE FLAMES!).

  • Parallex

    I’ll say no.

    If this was 25 games ago I’d likely sing a different tune but it’s pretty well clear that we’re not making the playoffs so right now I think it’s more important to give looks and NHL puck touches to prospective farmhands.

    I’d rather they have called up (and played) Kulak but if they want to give Nakladal a look towards potentially offering him an extension that isn’t bad either.

    • McRib

      This is a completely rational thought, but when throughout his career has Bob Hartley given “looks and NHL puck touches to prospective farmhands”…. This is the exact reason he fizzled out in Colorado, Atlanta. He is completely unwilling to give young players a chance (outside of elite no brainers). I’m so sick of Bob Hartley, I even supported him as early as last summer, but he will go down as one of the worst coaches to ever win the Jack Adams (Ted Nolan has some company). We fluked last year from a PDO standpoint, that’s it that’s all. Nothing to do with coaching, We also got killed when we played a half decent team like Anaheim in the second round of the playoff, so what did we really accomplish? Vancouver is only riding good goaltending or else they would be even below us this season.

  • Rockmorton65

    If we claim Weber, we can kiss Nakladal goodbye. I can’t see him re-signing here, having never got a shot at the big club. If I were Nak, bringing in another D would tell me the Flames weren’t interested in giving me a chance.

  • beloch

    If the Flames could trade Smid, Engelland, or even Wideman for Weber, it would be a move seriously worth considering. Claiming him off of waivers, on the other hand, gives the Flames too many third pairing defenders right when they really ought to be giving cups of coffee to Stockton’s best.

  • Craik

    Please enjoy your Friday afternoons out and about rather than wasting your time with these ideas. I love your perspective on most articles but today is a stetch. We are loaded with better and cheaper defencemen.

  • beloch

    Don’t know what Ari is talking about, Canucks fans are not mad about Weber being waived, some are just disappointed. They think he was worth something, he’s not.

    At best Weber might be a 8-9 defenseman. I would let your friends from Edmonton have him he is pretty much useless.

    By the way I am a Canucks fan & I don’t mind cheering for the Flames when my team is out.