David Poile is not crazy.
The Nashville Predators general manager effectively made defenseman Shea Weber the franchise’s cornerstone player four years ago when he named Weber captain. He reaffirmed that position two years ago when he and management matched the 13-year, $110 million offer sheet Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.
As ESPN.com poll of a dozen NHL executives found that others look at Weber the same way.
Writer Craig Custance asked each of the executives to rank their top five choices for the NHL’s top “franchise player,” assigned a point value to each vote and added up the totals. Each executive was granted anonomity.
Weber tied for fifth overall with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, last season’s top rookie, and was second among defensemen to Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty, who was third overall. The top five: Jonathan Toews, Chicago; Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh; Doughty; Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim; and Weber and MacKinnon.
Here’s what Custance had to say about the thinking of those who included Weber:
Doughty gets the edge because of his age, but even at 28 years old, there’s still a lot of premium game left in Weber, who scored 23 goals last season for Nashville. “Weber brings leadership that Drew doesn’t,” a voter said. One coach had Weber at No. 6 on a five-man list and an executive who had Doughty and four centermen considered Weber hard as his lone defenseman.
“Weber, to me, would be in the mix there. [Duncan] Keith is a little bit older. I put Doughty just ahead of that crew. And the more I think about it, the more Oliver Ekman-Larsson is in that conversation. He’s not far behind those.”
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