Former Canadiens consultant regrets Shea Weber comments

Dan Murphy reports from Vernon, B.C. where Shea Weber is excited to begin a new chapter with the Montreal Canadiens.

Matt Pfeffer wants to take back what he said about Shea Weber.

While working for the Montreal Canadiens, the 21-year-old Ottawa native made an analytical case for Montreal to keep P.K. Subban instead of trading him to Nashville for Weber. Montreal’s brass went ahead with the deal, and Pfeffer’s contract as an analytics consultant for the club was not renewed.

Pfeffer says he holds no ill will toward the Canadiens, “a world-class organization,” and was not told his firing had anything to do with his strong (and overruled) position on this summer’s blockbuster trade.

The number cruncher explained to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News some details of his Weber-Subban report Monday, then later regretted his choice of words.

“There’s nothing wrong with being average in the NHL,” Pfeffer told THN. “An average NHLer is worth a heck of a lot, and that’s what Shea Weber is.”

Pfeffer published the following statement on his Twitter account:

In the THN piece, Pfeffer explained that Weber’s 5-on-5 goal differential with the Predators is 0.18 per cent, which means Nashville is roughly as effective when Weber is on the ice as when he’s not. Subban’s goal differential is 3.14 — although we believe that discrepancy might be partially attributed to the Predators’ superior team depth.

“In my model that evaluates Shea Weber, very, very little of it has to do with shot differential at this point in his career,” Pfeffer told Campbell.

“With his experience, you really need to only look at goal differential to measure his impact. You only need Corsi if you don’t have a large enough sample size to evaluate goals. My analysis of Shea Weber had very little to do with Corsi. It’s easy to hate on Corsi, but [Weber] is not a good goal-differential guy either. He’s not pushing the needle in terms of how many goals the Nashville Predators score and get scored on when he’s on the ice. He’s good, he’s serviceable, but he doesn’t really push the needle on either side.”

The serviceable Weber has won gold medals for Canada at the world junior and world championship levels, plus two more golds from the Olympic Games. Four times he’s been named to the NHL’s first or second team all-star squad, and he possesses the scariest slap shot in the world. Team Canada chose Weber and not Subban to represent the country at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher, for one, sounds amped up by Weber’s addition to the Habs. He raved to NHL.com Monday about the D-man’s leadership and the options his fearsome slapper opens up.

“You don’t just make that trade to make it, but when you get the opportunity to bring in a player who can do everything that Shea does, well, we’re excited about adding him to our group,” Gallagher told Dave Stubbs.

“Defensively, he’s a pain to play against. He’s going to wear you down, he’s going to drive you into the corner, he’s going to make it a tough night.”