Canadiens’ Shea Weber reportedly to be left unprotected in expansion draft, miss 2021-22 season

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Shea Weber’s time with the Canadiens may be coming to a close — from a number of angles.

TVASports’ Renaud Lavoie tweeted Wednesday night that there were rumblings Montreal’s captain will not be protected in the upcoming expansion draft and could miss the entire 2021-22 season. He is dealing with injuries that reportedly are career-threatening.

It was disclosed after the 2021 Stanley Cup Final that Weber had a thumb injury, but Lavoie noted in a follow-up tweet Wednesday that there are also lower-body issues.

Weber was shut down in mid-December 2017 with a foot injury (later revealed to be a fracture) after being out of the lineup for a handful of games in November. The defenseman missed the remainder of the 2017-18 season and the first 24 games of the following season after undergoing left foot (tendons) and right knee (meniscus) surgeries.

Last season, it was announced on Feb. 12 that Weber would miss up to six weeks with a left ankle sprain; five days later, he was back in his usual spot alongside Ben Chiarot. Weber also missed time toward the end of the 2021 season with the thumb injury.

The 2021 Final was the first in the 36-year-old Weber’s 16-year NHL career. He notched six points in 22 games during the postseason and was second to Chiarot in average ice time, by just two seconds (25:13). During the regular season, he was second on the team in ice time behind Jeff Petry, at 22:42. The 2016 Mark Messier Leadership Award winner (as a member of the Predators) has accumulated 589 points (224 goals) in 1,038 games between Nashville and Montreal. He is a four-time All-Star, a three-time Norris Trophy finalist and a gold medalist with Team Canada at the Olympics (2010, 2014), world championships (2007) and world juniors (2005).

Weber has five years remaining on his contract, which carries a cap hit of $7,857,143 per season. He signed it in 2012 with the Predators after the Flyers tendered an offer sheet. Montreal could place him on long-term injured reserve, which would open up cap space. If he opts to retire, the Predators would face a cap recapture penalty of more than $4.9 million per season through the 2025-26 season.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will submit his list of protected players for the expansion draft on July 17. Whether or not Weber is on it is to be determined as his status remains uncertain. One thing is certain, however: His presence in the room will be missed in Montreal. And if this is the end, he had a great run.

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