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Rumor Roundup: Shea Weber for Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle?

Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators plays against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on November 16, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

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Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators plays against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on November 16, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish’s willingness to shop his 2014 first round pick in a package deal for a “stud defenseman” prompted the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson to suggest Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber as a trade target.

Matheson observes the struggling Predators have “absolutely no offense” and suggests promising young defensemen Seth Jones and Roman Josi could offset Weber’s departure.

Jason Brough of NBC Sports also noted Weber’s heavily front-loaded contract ($14 million in salary this season alone) is burdensome for the budget-conscious Predators.

MacTavish has repeatedly stated he won’t trade young forwards Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. Matheson doubts he would part with puck-moving defenseman Justin Schultz, but doesn’t consider Yakupov untouchable and believes the Predators “wouldn’t mind Sam Gagner.” He also feels the Predators would have interest in prospects like Darnell Nurse or Oscar Klefbom.

Brough doubts Predators GM David Poile would be interested in Yakupov, recalling Predators GM David Poile’s unhappy experience with Russian winger Alex Radulov. Brough believes MacTavish would have to consider including Hall in a deal for Weber.

It would definitely take Hall or Eberle as the centerpiece of a package for the Oilers to have a reasonable shot at prying Weber away from the Predators. Weber’s contract may be expensive, but they need his experience and leadership until Jones comes into his own.

The Predators are also having goaltending issues. With starter Pekka Rinne sidelined indefinitely by a bacterial infection in his surgically repaired hip, backups Carter Hutton (3.39 GAA, .891 SP) and Marek Mazanec (3.16 GAA, .911 SP) are struggling to replace him.

Poile recently told The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper if Rinne can come back within “two or three weeks or a month” the Predators would await his return, but USA Today’s Kevin Allen fears the Predators season could be lost by waiting too long.

Allen suggests the Anaheim Ducks as a trade partner, noting their goaltending depth in Jonas Hiller, Viktor Fasth, Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun recently reported the two clubs held discussions about Hiller, but Poile is awaiting further word on Rinne’s status.

The Predators enter this week with a .500 record (9-9-2), eight points out of the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. Poile will remain patient until the end of this month, but if Rinne doesn’t return soon and the Predators lose ground in the standings, he’ll have little choice but to seek help between the pipes.

Poile could revisit talks with the Ducks about Hiller. He could also contact the Toronto Maple Leafs about James Reimer or the Ottawa Senators regarding Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner, but it’s believed those clubs will keep their goalie tandems intact for now. Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues could also be an option.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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