You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: “The Nashville Predators should trade Shea Weber.” Whether it’s because of the offer sheet he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, the return he could bring or that younger Predators defensemen are ready to replace him–everyone seems to have a reason why Nashville’s captain should be shipped out of town.
You’re probably still in shock over the fact that Predators forward Eric Nystrom scored four goals last night against the Calgary Flames, and yet Nashville still came up short: losing in a shootout 5-4.
So take a moment and think about something other than a disappointing loss, and take a look at whether any of the reasons raised on why Shea Weber should be traded have any merit.
- Weber’s 14-year, $110 million offer sheet with the Flyers showed his disloyalty to Nashville and it’s better that he doesn’t remain a Predator: The disloyalty angle is probably the weakest one of the bunch. It loses sight of the business aspect of professional sports and says Weber’s desire to get rewarded for being one of the league’s top players is wrong. Although Weber most likely signed this deal knowing the Predators would match it, and therefore making it not an act of disloyalty, the cash Nashville is shelling out to their captain is a massive amount either way. Shea Weber makes $14 million the first two seasons of the deal and $12 million the two campaigns after that, a huge amount to give out to a single player, especially for a club based in the smaller market of Nashville. Weber easily makes more than the six other members of the Predators defensive corps–combined. If the Predators miss the postseason again this season and attendance and cash reserve numbers start to dwindle, financial viability suddenly becomes a realistic reason that the Predators would have to part with their All-Star blueliner. It’s too early to use this money argument as the main reason for dealing Weber, but in the next year or so it certainly could become one of them.
- Weber could be turned into the pure-scoring forward Nashville has “never” had: Often it’s wise to consider any part of a team’s roster an asset that can be used to bring in new pieces. Weber is no different. With goalie Pekka Rinne out with an injury, there’s no debate that Shea Weber is the Predators most desirable piece and wanted by almost every NHL team. On top of that, the 28-year-old D-man is leading all defensemen in goal scoring with 13 and has shown he can excel even without his long-time defensive partner, Ryan Suter. If Nashville doesn’t think they will have a strong chance at winning a Stanley Cup in the next two to three years–then it’s time to rebuild. And that means adding the missing piece Nashville needs so desperately: a dynamic wing or center that can score 40-50 goals a season and win a game on a given night almost by himself. If Weber could be turned into a young forward that the Predators can build their offense around (e.g. John Tavares), the small step backward would be well worth the balance on offense and defense soon possessed by Nashville; not to mention the potential to compete with any team due to their new offensive threat.
- With future cornerstone pieces on defense like Roman Josi and Seth Jones, Weber isn’t as necessary anymore: Roman Josi is the real deal. Seth Jones is showing signs he very well may be too. Even Ryan Ellis appears to have taken a step forward in his progression this season. In a few years, Nashville could still have a top-five blue line in the NHL, even if Weber isn’t a part of it. But on the other hand, Josi, Jones and Ellis certainly aren’t close to Weber’s level of play yet (he’s a true talent in the NHL and a perennial All-Star) and won’t be overnight either. Declaring Josi, Jones and Ellis the future of Nashville’s defense is not a foolish decision at all. But if they are given the reigns right now, there is an acknowledgement that the Predators are taking an immediate step backward, with the hope a new forward and/or prospect brought in–combined with these young blueliners–will bring a brighter future to Nashville than Weber plus no dynamic forward ever could.
So there you have it.
I didn’t think I’d end up here when I started thinking through the reasons usually given for trading Nashville’s captain, but it probably makes more sense than you might initially think. When it comes down to it, it’s primarily a question of how soon Nashville thinks they can have a club that possesses the ability to compete at a championship level.
If the answer is more than anything outside of a couple years, then it’s time to try a different method because Weber and an average forward group are not getting the job done.