Canadiens GM not expecting Shea Weber to play again

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said on Thursday that he does not expect captain Shea Weber to play during the 2021-22 NHL season and the possibility exists that the defenseman has played his last game.

Weber played through ankle, knee, and thumb injuries during Montreal’s run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. Those injury issues were why Bergevin left the veteran defenseman unprotect during this week’s Seattle expansion draft.

Foot issues have hampered Weber, who will turn 36 in August, for several years, with surgery needed in March 2018 to repair tendons.

“Over the last few years, there was his ankle, his knee, his thumb,” Bergevin said. “There is a lot of pain, it takes him a long time in the morning to get ready just for a practice. As you know, Shea is not the kind of person who complains. Even missing a practice is not an option. He’s got a lot of mileage and he’s really pushed his body to the limit. He won’t be back next season, and probably won’t be back for his career.”

Weber has five years left on the front-loaded 14-year, $110M offer sheet he signed with the Flyers in 2012 that was matched by the Predators. Four years later, Weber was dealt to Montreal for P.K. Subban. (We dove into cap implication here.)

“It was hard for Shea, it’s all he knows,” Bergevin said. “He’s a hockey player to the core. He’s been doing that all his life and it’s really hit hard to realize that he can no longer perform the way it’s expected for him and his teammates.

“The pain, he goes through daily. We had an emotional, deep conversation. I have a lot of respect for Shea for what he’s done for the Montreal Canadiens throughout his career. It will be impossible to replace Shea Weber. What he brings to our team on and off the ice — we’ll try our best, but I know deep down that you can never replace Shea Weber.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Kraken reportedly passing on Price, Tarasenko in NHL expansion draft

The game of chicken between Ron Francis and Marc Bergevin will end with Carey Price not heading to the Seattle Kraken.

According to a number of NHL insiders, the Kraken will use their Canadiens pick on defenseman Cale Fleury.

The news over the weekend that Price had been exposed by the Canadiens was a bit of an eyebrow raiser, but then it came out that he might require knee surgery and miss a large chunk of the 2021-22 NHL season. Still, there was a small case to make for him being drafted. Price would have been a “face of the franchise” type player, played junior hockey in Washington State, and was born in British Columbia.

But the case against drafting Price was obvious. He will be 34 in August, has five more years remaining on a contract that carries a $10.5M salary cap hit, and his game has been trending downward since his Vezina Trophy win in 2014-15.

Another star player the Kraken will be passing on is Vladimir Tarasenko. The 29-year-old forward has requested a trade out of St. Louis and was left unprotected by the Blues. Defenseman Vince Dunn, who is a pending restricted free agent, will reportedly be Seattle’s pick.

Tarasenko has two years left on his contract with a $7.5M cap hit. There were reports that teams were contacting Francis to inform him of their interest in making a trade should they pick the Blues forward. Now that Tarasenko will remain in St. Louis for the time being, GM Doug Armstrong can at least attempt to get assets in return.

Roster news slowly dripping out

The leaks are coming out hours before Wednesday’s expansion draft show. Jared McCann, Brandon Tanev, Carsen Twarynski, Mark Giordano, Vitek Vanecek, and Joey Daccord appear to be heading to Seattle. That news follows reports of Francis agreeing to sign defensemen Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak, along with goaltender Chris Driedger.

Seattle’s expansion draft roster must feature at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies. The Kraken had a 10 a.m. ET Wednesday deadline to submit their 30 expansion draft selections to the NHL.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

2021 NHL Awards: PHT’s ballots for the Jim Gregory GM of the Year Award

The NHL will be announcing the winner of the 2020-21 Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award during Sunday’s Game 4 of the Canadiens-Golden Knights series (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN / Peacock). The award is given to the GM “who best-excelled in his role during the regular season.”

It is an award that is voted on by all 31 NHL GMs following the conclusion of the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs..

Montreal’s Marc Bergevin, New York’s Lou Lamoriello, and Florida’s Bill Zito are this year’s finalists.

Prior to the start of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Pro Hockey Talk team submitted their ballots for the major individual NHL awards. Here’s our voting breakdown for GM of the Year (voting after the Second Round is silly), using the NHL’s 5-3-1 points allocation for places:

1. Joe Sakic, Colorado – 18 points (15-3-0)
2. Bill Zito, Florida – 14 points (10-3-1)
3. Julien BriseBois, Tampa Bay – 3 points (0-3-0)
4. Marc Bergevin, Montreal – 3 points (0-3-0)
     Bill Guerin, Minnesota – 3 points (0-3-0)
     Don Sweeney, Boston – 3 points (0-0-3)
5. Don Waddell, Carolina – 1 point (0-0-1)

Sean Leahy, NHL writer

1. Bill Zito
2. Joe Sakic
3. Don Sweeney

In building a team around his young stars and Joel Quenneville, Zito added Patric Hornqvist, Radko Gudas, Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Wennberg, MacKenzie Weegar, and Anthony Duclair in the off-season, plus Sam Bennett at the trade deadline. The moves helped the franchise build a foundation to ensure their successful 2020-21 season wasn’t a one-hit wonder.

Adam Gretz, NHL writer

1. Joe Sakic
2. Bill Zito
3. Don Sweeney

Joe Sakic just keeps pushing all of the right buttons in Colorado. Not only has he built a powerhouse team that is set to contend for the Stanley Cup for years, but his additions of Devon Toews and Brandon Saad before the start of this season were just perfect complementary additions to his roster without having to send away anything of significance.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]

James O’Brien, NHL writer

1. Joe Sakic
2. Julien Brisebois
3. Don Sweeney

GM of the Year is ultimately the culmination of multiple years of work, and it’s resounding how dominant the Avalanche have been — just consider if they’d stay healthy. Complain all you want about Kucherov on LTIR, but the Lightning play the salary cap like a fiddle, and have done it for years. And getting Taylor Hall for the lint in his pocket was some fabulous work by Sweeney. But Sakic and the Avs are pressing all the right buttons, and leaving themselves some solid flexibility for the future while doing so.

Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer

1. Joe Sakic
2. Marc Bergevin
3. Bill Zito

Colorado was already loaded but the moves for Devon Toews and Brandon Saad went under the radar. Bergevin made some great offseason moves to turn around Montreal, who made the postseason despite firing their coach midway through the year.

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor

1. Bill Zito
2. Bill Guerin
3. Don Waddell

Guerin did a great job in Minnesota as did Zito with the Panthers and Zito narrowly beats out the Wild GM for his off-season signing of Carter Verhaeghe as well as trades for Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour at the deadline. The first-year GM did a terrific job and is deserving of the award.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content

1. Bill Zito
2. Bill Guerin
3. Kyle Dubas

If Florida falls short this year, it won’t be because Zito didn’t give them the best possible chance to win. He’s made move after move to improve the Panthers, and they’ve immediately become a Cup contender because of it.