What the Toronto Maple Leafs are getting in Cade Webber

Cade Webber
Photo credit:Rich Gagnon/Boston University
Steven Ellis
4 months ago
Cade Webber is a big, big man.
He’s listed as a 6-foot-7 defenceman by Boston University, and when you watch him, he looks every bit the part. He commands space – and given the moves GM Brad Treliving made to add size to the team’s depth chart, Webber’s trade made sense.
The Leafs acquired him last week in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2026, a deal that surprised many. A fourth-round pick by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2019, the BU senior’s stats are whatever the opposite of sexy is, with zero goals and just six points in 32 games. He has just one goal and 16 points in 117 career games, with a career point-per-game average of 0.14.
So, yeah. You’re not getting him to be Shea Weber out there. So what’s the deal here?
“You are talking about a 6-foot-7 defenceman who has good mobility, and his only focus is on defending,” said former NHLer Colby Cohen, who won a national title with BU back in 2009 and finished as the NCAA tournament MVP.
“He takes pride in blocking shots, ending plays in his own zone, and moving the puck quickly to his partner or his forwards. He’s been well coached at BU and Cade has really taken another step this season on his reads defending the rush. BU leans heavily on him when they are killing penalties and protecting the lead.”

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Webber is a pure defensive defenceman, but he’s among the best. The fourth-year college defender was named Best Defensive Defenceman in Hockey East on Thursday, his first personal hardware during his college tenure. He was able to win the Hockey East title with BU a year ago, playing a pure shutdown role for a team led defensively by Lane Hutson and Domenick Fensore.
Compared to Hutson, who is known for his incredible puck skills, Webber mostly gets defensive zone assignments – the things that won’t look attractive on a scoresheet. He’s been a valuable piece in Boston’s success the past few years, leading the team in blocks while averaging around 19 minutes a night.
Is there NHL potential there, though? The reality is we don’t see many like him these days. When looking at the tallest players in NHL history, only four – Zdeno Chara, Tyler Myers, Brian Boyle and Hal Gill – were long-term, full-time NHLers standing at 6-foot-7 or taller. Others have come and gone, often to bring strength and reach, but we’ve seen a shift to smaller, mobile defenders who act as fourth forwards out there.
Webber will never be that guy. He’ll always be someone that you throw on the ice to kill a penalty or shut down other team’s star players – at least in the NCAA. He can move, but he doesn’t have NHL-caliber speed. You’re not looking for a guy his size to be quick, though, because he’s not going to rush in and try to chip in a goal – it’s all about shutting things down at the blueline or moving guus
While Webber has size, he’s not overly physical. He’s not looking to lay someone out, because he understands that, at his size, he’s going to be called for a penalty more often than not. But he uses his pure muscle mass to move guys out of the way with ease, and it often pays off.
The one thing Webber does well, he does really well. But the days of one-dimensional defenders being full-time NHLers are way past gone at this point. And at 23 years old, Webber is no spring chicken – he’s older than Matthew Knies and Nick Robertson, and only a year younger than Timothy Liljegren, who is currently in his fifth NHL season. What we see from him in college is pretty close to what we should expect once he turns pro.
Webber is still unsigned while in school, so the deal is for his rights. The Leafs will need to sign him before August 15 or else his rights will expire and he’ll become a UFA. The same goes for Veeti Miettinen and Mike Koster, while Brandon Lisowsky – a WHL winger – will have his rights expire if not signed before June 1.
Put it this way: even if Webber doesn’t impact the Leafs meaningfully, it was a deal worth making. Trading for him now allows the Leafs to get closer to him before either signing him to an entry-level contract or letting his rights expire and signing him to an AHL deal instead. It’s not clear which route they’d take, but they didn’t trade for him for no reason, either. They gave up an actual asset to make it happen – even if Pontus Holmberg is the lone sixth-rounder who became a full-time NHLer from Toronto over the past decade.
Worth the move? Absolutely. Is he worth getting excited about? To be determined.

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