There were questions as to how defenseman Shea Weber would fit in with the Montreal Canadiens after they acquired him from the Nashville Predators for defenseman P.K. Subban on June 29. But a quarter of the way through the season, Weber has looked quite good in the Canadiens' red, white and blue.
Weber is tied for second on Montreal in points (18) and third among all defensemen, trailing Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks (21) and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators (19). Weber also is tops in plus/minus (plus-18), power-play goals (seven) and power-play points (10) and tied for the lead in game-winning goals (three) at the position.
"He's playing excellent hockey," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said recently. "He's scoring big goals, making big plays at the right times. He's acting like a real leader. A leader to me is based on your actions, and he's had a very positive impact on our team."
Weber, 31, is on pace to shatter his career highs in goals (23), assists (33) and points (56) and ranks in the top 10 in both hits and blocks, helping the Canadiens rank tied for second in the League in goals-against per game (2.13). He's also logging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game.
Video: OTT@MTL: Weber blisters in one-timer for PPG
Because of what he has done offensively and defensively, Weber is the favorite to win the Norris Trophy as best defenseman in the NHL, according to a panel of 13 writers for NHL.com, and it wasn't even close.
Weber had 62 points, including 10 first-place votes, a decisive edge over two-time Norris winner Karlsson, who was second with 27 points (no first-place votes). Last season's Norris winner, Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, was third with 22 points (one first-place vote). Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild and Burns finished fourth and fifth, respectively, and each received one first-place vote.
"You look at the way he plays and he's such a tough player to play against, in front of the net and in the corners. He has a good stick," Therrien said after Weber had the game-winning power-play goal, an assist and four blocks in a 3-2 win against the New York Islanders on Oct. 26. "Yes, the fact that he's able to pick up points like that is impressive, but his defensive play is the most important thing for us."
Video: DET@MTL: Weber beats Howard with huge slap shot
Weber was the captain of the Predators for the past six seasons and one of the best defensemen in the League, so the trade to Montreal took him by surprise. It wouldn't have been surprising if it took him time to adjust to his new team, but that clearly hasn't been the case.
"I just wanted to fit in with this group," Weber said earlier this season. "I'm trying just to be myself and fit in with this group of guys, which is a great group, and contribute in any way that I can."
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1- basis): Shea Weber, Canadiens, 62; Erik Karlsson, Senators, 27; Drew Doughty, Kings, 22; Ryan Suter, Wild, 20; Brent Burns, Sharks, 19; Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks, 18; Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning, 10; Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers, 7; Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues, 5; Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets, 4; Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins, 1.