On Monday, defenseman Mike Weber joked with Buffalo reporters that players like to pack extra clothing in their suitcases prior to the NHL trade deadline.
Weber didn’t say he was one of those players, but one day later the “heart and soul” blue liner is on his way to Washington as the newest member of the Capitals.
The Caps acquired Weber, 28, on Tuesday in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. The Sabres have retained 50 percent of Weber’s expiring contract, which carries a $1.66 million cap hit. Weber's signing also gives the Caps 50 players under contract, which is the NHL limit. If they plan on adding any more players to their roster before Monday's 3 p.m. trade deadline, a contract has to go the other way.
“We are pleased to welcome Mike to our organization,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “Mike is a stay-at-home defenseman, who plays a physical game and is respected by his teammates. We felt it was important to add depth to our blue line by adding another quality veteran defenseman.”
Weber had played his entire NHL career with the Sabres. In 35 games for them this season he recorded five points (one goal, four assists) and 32 penalty minutes.
“He’s a passionate guy,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told reporters on Monday, referring to Weber as a “heart and soul” player. “He wears his heart on his sleeve as a person and as a player. That’s how he plays the game. It was evident from afar. I saw it playing against him. Undoubtedly, he’s showed it this year with the way he’s played.”
It will be interesting to see where Weber fits into the Capitals’ defensive rotation. He could serve as a seventh defenseman ahead of Taylor Chorney and serve as insurance in the event Brooks Orpik gets injured at any point in the regular season or post-season.
However he is used, Weber is going from one of the worst teams in the NHL to one of the best. And he’ll probably want his wife, who is expecting the couple’s second child any day, to join him.
“My younger days, I think you worry a little bit too much about what’s going on upstairs,” Weber said on Monday. “As you get older and you mature in this league, you don’t worry about that, you just try to worry about … the guys you’re battling for every night.”
Since he entered the NHL as a teenager in 2007-08, the Pittsburgh native ranks first among Buffalo skaters in hits (917) and blocked shots (666).
Weber has registered 53 points (nine goals, 44 assists) and 409 penalty minutes in 341 career NHL games with Buffalo. He was drafted by the Sabres in the second round, 57th overall, in the 2006 NHL Draft.
Weber also has one assist in seven career playoff games. He led the Sabres with 16 blocked shots during the 2010-11 postseason.