The third installment of our “What If” series takes another look at the 2012 off-season from a different perspective. This time, we examine what would have happened if Shea Weber had packed up and left town following Ryan Suter’s departure. Weber was just days away from doing so, as he signed a massive offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers, only to have the Predators match it, thus keeping the franchise afloat.
If the Predators had not matched that offer sheet, the team would have been sunk for a little while. But, it may not have been all that bad. How quickly could the Predators have recovered? Take a look at how things would be different:
Predators Would Be Worst Team In 2013
In a lockout-shortened season and with very little talent on the roster, the Predators would sputter in 2013 and
earn the worst record in the NHL. Think about what that team would look like. It would be the same offense that couldn’t produce goals with Roman Josi as the team’s best defender (no offense to Josi, of course). Imagine a team in Barry Trotz’s defensive style (which, by the way, probably remained in place only because of Weber), with no defense or offense. The Predators already finished near the very bottom of the Western Conference in reality that season. Losing Shea Weber would sink them to rock bottom.
Barry Trotz and David Poile Are Both Fired
Following that dismal 2013 season, the Predators would completely clean house and fire both head coach Barry Trotz and general manager David Poile at the end of said season. With Weber’s departure, the “Predator Way” that defined the first 14 or so years of the franchise would be gone. Deposing of the “old guard” would mark significant change in the franchise and represent the first stage of a rebuild. It is impossible to say who the Predators would hire to replace Trotz and Poile. But, the “new guard” would probably have some Stanley Cup experience.
Predators Draft Nathan Mackinnon in 2013 NHL Draft
The Predators would have earned themselves the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and selected phenom
Nathan Mackinnon. We all saw what Mackinnon did in his first year with the Avalanche in reality. Many have called him the “next Sidney Crosby.” While that comparison may be a tad juvenile, Mackinnon’s speed an offensive prowess is very rare. He would be the first true top-six forward on the Predators since Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg. He would bring an immediate offensive spark to a team that had lacked it.
Predators Draft Aaron Ekblad in 2014 NHL Draft
Despite snagging Nathan Mackinnon in the 2013 draft, the Predators would still tank in the 2013-14 season. They may have had a new system and a stud forward, but that doesn’t always translate to success (see Oilers, Edmonton). They would earn the first overall pick again, and take a new franchise defenseman in Aaron Ekblad. He would re-bolster a defensive unit that would still be reeling from the loss of Shea Weber. At that point, the Predators would have pieces in place to build a franchise team. With a few free agent signings, the new-look Predators would have the potential to reach the playoffs again, just two years removed from the departure of Shea Weber.