Rumor Roundup: Is the time right to trade Shea Weber?

Shea Weber (Getty Images)

While the Nashville Predators matched a 14-year, $110-million offer sheet for captain Shea Weber from the Philadelphia Flyers in July 2012, he’s remained the subject of annual off-season trade speculation.

Weber’s value to the Predators and the expense of his contract are usually cited as reasons why he won’t be dealt, but Yahoo Sports’ Josh Cooper believes the time could be right to trade him within the next year. Among the factors justifying this move includes the potential for a strong return, the expense of re-signing Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones next year and the possibility the 29-year-old defenseman’s performance could be about to decline.

Unlike most stars of Weber’s caliber, he lacks a no-trade clause in his contract. The Predators can entertain offers from around the league and ship him anywhere without his consent.
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Dale Hawerchuk made it look easy, but hard work earned him the first big UFA contract

Dale Hawerchuk (Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Twenty years ago this summer, the first crop of elite-level Group III unrestricted free agents went on the open market. The NHL was coming off its first protracted work stoppage, and the 1994-95 season was reduced to 48 games for each of the league’s 26 teams. The new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ association granted unconditional free agency for any player 32 or over once his contract expired.

Among the first players to act was future Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk. By that time, ‘Ducky’ was already a veteran of 14 NHL seasons and had 489 goals and 1,314 points. But this was his first real chance to cash in – he signed a $7.5-million deal over three seasons – and his first real opportunity to challenge for a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues were loading up that summer 20 years ago, also signing UFAs Geoff Courtnall, Grant Fuhr and Brian Noonan. But it was Hawerchuk they really wanted, and negotiations with agent Gus Badali took just a few minutes. St. Louis coach-GM Mike Keenan knew he was getting an aging superstar who still had a lot to offer, because Keenan had watched Hawerchuk develop and dominate for the better part of a generation. Read more

Which teams have had the best and worst off-seasons according to the numbers?

Jack Eichel (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

It’s been nearly two weeks since free agency opened and most of the big fish have landed, which means it’s time to evaluate the winners and losers of free agency. There’s still some great players out there that can help teams, but the bulk of signings have already been made so right now is a perfect time to see how each team has done so far.

Usually, grading a team’s offseason in July is a fool’s errand because a lot of things will change during the season, but with recent advances in hockey analytics, it’s possible to get a reasonable estimation. Just like our post before free agency began, we used wins above replacement from war-on-ice.com over the last three seasons to project what a player will do next season. Using our off-season movement tracker, we looked at who’s in and who’s out for each team and added up their WAR totals to get wins added (or lost) from this offseason.

Of course, wins aren’t everything in the offseason, especially in a salary cap league. The value of the wins added is important too. With that in mind, here’s all 30 teams’ wins added compared to how much salary they added. Above the red line means a team got less for their money, while below means teams got more. (Keep in mind that WAR is generally skewed towards forwards and goalies so a team that added a big-time D-man, like Calgary, won’t look as great as they should here). Read more

Sabres expecting massive crowd for Eichel vs. Reinhart scrimmage

Jared Clinton
Jack Eichel (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

While a final count has yet to be determined, the Buffalo Sabres are set to welcome a crowd for Jack Eichel’s scrimmage debut that rivals a home game for the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Arizona Coyotes or even the Winnipeg Jets.

That’s right: the Sabres are expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 13,000 to 15,000 fans to be in attendance Friday when a prospect team featuring Eichel, the second overall selection in the 2015 draft, takes on another squad that starring 2014 second overall pick Sam Reinhart.

Suffice to say, Buffalo’s a tad excited. Then again, so is Eichel. Read more

Why it will take time before McDavid, Eichel make serious impact

Connor McDavid (David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres have made it very clear – it’s time to flip the switch. The two franchises collected their rewards for a season of ineptitude – two generational talents in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel – 12 days ago at the draft and they’ve been bathing in optimism ever since with an attitude that suggests they’re going to waste no time in getting the teams back into contention. The two teams made some of the biggest moves during the off-season that show they mean just that.

Edmonton traded for goaltender Cam Talbot and added steady defender Andrej Sekera during free agency, while Buffalo got a young, almost-elite center in Ryan O’Reilly to go with their own new goaltender, Robin Lehner. They’re very good moves for both clubs and there’s no doubt that the teams are much better because of it.

Here’s the thing: these two teams were already very bad. In terms of goal difference, Buffalo allowed 113 more goals than they scored while Edmonton allowed 85. Not many teams have put up numbers that atrocious (adjusted to this year’s goal-scoring levels and talent distribution) since the league has expanded and those that have were still pretty bad the next season, too. Read more