With the Capitals’ 2015-16 season now in the rearview mirror, we continue with our numerical player-by-player roster analysis.
No. 6 Mike Weber
Age: 28 (turns 29 on Dec. 16)
Games: 45 (10 with Caps, 35 with Buffalo)
Goals: 1 (with Buffalo)
Assists: 4 (with Buffalo)
Plus-minus: Plus-2 (minus-1 with Caps)
Penalty minutes: 60 (28 with Caps)
Time on ice: 15:28 (13:58 with Caps)
Playoff stats: 2 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-1, 0 PIM, 9:51
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent ($2 million salary in 2015-16)
Mike Weber will remember his short stint in Washington as one of the best experiences of his NHL career. Caps fans may not.
Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft, Weber’s final act as a member of the Capitals was a crushing one.
It came in Game 4 in Pittsburgh, a game in which the Penguins were without suspended defenseman Kris Letang and the Capitals were one win away from tying the series. With 2:34 gone in overtime, Conor Sheary threw a puck toward the net. Weber blocked it on his backhand, but as the puck trickled away from him he jabbed at it, sending it right onto the stick of Patric Hornqvist. The Penguins’ right wing snapped a shot between the legs of Braden Holtby to give the Penguins a 3-2 win and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Weber, who appeared in only one other playoff game for the Caps – a series-clinching Game 6 win in Philadelphia -- never played another shift for the Capitals. And as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, there’s a good chance he never will again.
But that didn’t stop Weber from raving about the Capitals and how close he thinks they are to winning the first championship in team history.
“Obviously, it’s a pretty special group,” Weber told reporters on breakup day. “We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish, but for myself, being in a situation where I was somewhere for so long and to come in and be welcomed by this group was pretty special.
“What this group was able to do and accomplish while I was here before (the playoffs,) it was a record-setting year. But obviously it’s disappointing that we’re talking to you guys right now.”
Weber spent his entire eight-year NHL career in Buffalo before coming to the Capitals in a trade deadline deal. He played in 10 of the Capitals’ final 24 games of the regular season and just two of their 12 playoff games, filling in admirably as a no-frills, 6-foot-2, 212-pounder. It was during his two months with the Capitals that Weber saw something he had never experienced in his eight years with the Sabres.
“You don’t say this too often,” he said. “I’ve played on teams where guys haven’t been close and you know some guys aren’t going to battle every night. You’ve got some guys on board and you’ve got some guys not.
“Coming in here and seeing the way this locker room is – there was stuff away from the scenes that (media) don’t really get to see. This is a special group, and a good thing going forward is a lot of this group is going to be together and can hopefully get it done in the future.
“But again, I felt privileged and honored that I was able to wear a Washington Capitals jersey this year and be able to play some games for this team and try to do what I can when I did.”
The Capitals have six defensemen under contract for next season – John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Karl Alzner, Brooks Orpik, Taylor Chorney and Nate Schmidt – and another (Dmitry Orlov) they expect to re-sign as a restricted free agent. With prospects like Tyler Lewington, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler knocking on the door, it’s pretty clear Weber will hope to catch on with another NHL team through free agency. July 1 will mark his first time as an unrestricted free agent.
“I’ve done my job, I’ve played,” He said. “I’ve got a body of work and now it’s time to kind of let the pieces fall. I’d love to be back in Washington. I’d love to be back playing here with this group of guys, but it’s a business and you’ve got to accept that and be patient and see what the summer brings.”
From a personal standpoint, Weber said he was excited to be reuniting with his family in Buffalo, from where he left shortly after his wife gave birth to the couple’s second child in late February.
“I’ve got a great family and two great kids that I get to go home to this summer and make sure I’m ready to play, wherever that may be,” Weber said. “I’m looking forward to getting home. Obviously, it is under terrible circumstances, but it’ll be nice to get home to the kids and my wife.”