Shea Weber and Roman Josi make up the top defensive pairing for the Nashville Predators. They are a dynamic duo that does just about everything. From shutting down the opposition to scoring, along with all the little things you look for in defensemen.
With their strong skill set, it would seem bizarre to not play them as much as possible, and that is exactly what the Predators have done.
Josi finished 2014-15 averaging 26:28 of ice time per contest while Weber was just seconds behind at 26:22. They finished fourth and fifth respectively in that category among all skaters in the NHL. Josi’s career time on ice average sits at 24:22 while Weber’s is 23:52.
Lessening the workload for Weber and Josi is something head coach Peter Laviolette is taking a look at headed into the season, as he told Adam Vingan of The Tennesseean:
“Certainly, ideally you’d like to bring those minutes down a little bit if you could. Sometimes in the course of the game, it becomes a little bit challenging. I do think that we have the support and the depth to try to accomplish that this year, to see if we can’t bring it down a little bit.”
Shaving off a few minutes for either one of these players will be entirely situational. You are going to continue to see Weber and Josi on the ice in every dire situation of every game, but the depth of Nashville’s blue line could lighten the load in some situations where Weber and Josi are normally seen.
Seth Jones has two full NHL seasons under his belt and is primed for a breakout campaign. The 20-year-old averaged just under 20 minutes of ice time last season and is capable of being a go to d-man for the Preds; even more so than he was a year ago.
As for the other two blueliners, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis could also take on added minutes. Ekholm played 19:01 a night in 2014-15 while Ellis played 18:59. Adding, on average, just an extra minute to their totals and taking a minute off of Weber and Josi’s plate could go a long way.
Weber has not averaged fewer than 25:00 a night since 2009-10. He recently turned 30 and his track record of 16,352 minutes played over his career is going to catch up to him much sooner rather than later. Only one player has logged more ice time than Nashville’s captain over the past five seasons–his former partner, Ryan Suter.
#NHLStats: Most Time on Ice from 2010-11 to 2014-15. 2. Shea Weber – 9543:07 (6.62 days) pic.twitter.com/oF41y5C5m1
— NHL (@NHL) September 16, 2015
Josi is just stepping into the spotlight. At just 25, he has much more ice time ahead of him than Weber so the heavy workload doesn’t have the same toll it has on Weber.
The toughest part about all of this is that you are not going to see Weber on the ice without Josi by his side and vice versa. If Weber’s ice time is cut down, then chances are Josi’s will be as well. It is also going to be tough to take away ice time from an eight-time Norris Trophy finalist in Weber.
Preserving the legs of both Josi and Weber could go a very long way when it comes to Stanley Cup Playoff time. The fresher the legs, regardless of who you are talking about, is a positive in every shape or form.
It is looking to the future, but look to see Josi and Weber’s ice time cut down if the situation presents itself throughout the upcoming season.