Opinions are like armpits…everyone has a couple and most of the time they stink. With that in mind, I think I had better offer up my opinion on the recent flurry of thoughts, ideas and articles on trading the Nashville Predators Shea Weber.
It all started with an article on Yahoos Puck Daddy by Josh Cooper who was the former beat writer for the Preds in Nashville. It was a long and well written article outlining why the time to trade the stalwart defenseman of the Predators is now.
He basically had five main reasons to trade Shea Weber before this season. He felt that teams would line up to give Nashville almost anything they want for the big defenseman. Secondly, it is generally thought that the team has an embarrassment of riches on defense including youngsters, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, and Ryan Ellis.
He worried that last year’s lower stats for Weber could be a trend instead of an aberration. He also feels that the team is going to have to bring buckets of money next year to sign both Jones and Filip Forsberg. Lastly, he stated that since the big offer sheet incident with Philadelphia, things have never been the same and it’s time to turn the team over to upcoming young stars.
Weber will be 30 years old this month and with the big hits and big minutes he plays he may be closer to 35 in “Hockey Years”. He had his worst year statistically last year with 15 goals and 45 points, (most teams DREAM they had a defenseman that could score like that). He also doesn’t come cheap thanks to aforementioned offer sheet that will hit the Predators salary cap with nearly $8 million annually through the 2025-26 season.
It is thought that trading Weber could bring the legitimate first line center that the Predators have always craved plus at least a couple of good young prospects. Although it’s been a long time since it’s been a problem in Nashville, cornerstone defensemen are almost as hard to come by as star forwards and goalies like Pekka Rinne.
If you were ever going to trade Weber, now is the time. He isn’t getting any younger and as we saw when Ryan Suter left in Free Agency, sometimes it almost turns out a good thing. We aren’t saddled with Suter’s huge contract and it would have been hard for Roman Josi to turn into one of the NHL’s best upcoming defensemen sitting behind him on the bench.
All of that being said, I am dead set against trading the Captain. At least at the present time. He is so much more to this team than just goals and points can show. He is the face of the franchise and that is more important than ever this year with the All Star game coming to Nashville. You will see him locally and nationally as the leader of the team in all the hoopla surrounding that game.
Eyes On Isles
I am one of the folks that believe that if the Predators had a healthy Shea Weber in the first round of the playoffs last season against the Blackhawks, there would be a different team showing off the Stanley Cup now. I’m not saying that team would be the Preds but I don’t think that Chicago would have escaped the first round. That is the kind of difference that Weber provides.
He does so many things well. He averaged over 26 minutes a game last year for the third year in a row. Although the stat can be over-rated, he was a plus-15 when on the ice and that is against the best players on the other teams. He is a shut down defenseman and still has a 108 mph slapshot that no one wants to get in front of.
The Predators gave two-year deals to Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro this off-season. There are reasons to believe that there are young players ready to make the step up to provide more offense, especially with Peter Laviolette’s system. The young team gained needed experience from meeting Chicago in the playoffs last year. I truly believe that the Predators will be better this year than last.
That is why I think you keep Shea Weber for the forseeable future and let him lead us to the NHL promised land. He is the heart and soul of this team and if he comes back and shows that last year was nothing more than an aberration stats-wise he is invaluable. Let’s table all of this trade talk and perhaps revisit it in a couple of years.
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