Shea Weber (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Nashville Predators are clinging to a playoff spot and could look to shake things up if they miss the post-season or exit the playoffs in the first round. One option could be dealing defenseman Shea Weber, who could fetch a significant return.
After finishing among last season's top teams in the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators are currently clinging to a playoff wild-card berth. While they possess solid goaltending and blueline depth, their offensive production (currently 14th in goals per game) remains a significant concern.
It's hardly an original idea. Indeed, it's one which has kicked around the rumor mill dating back to 2012, when Poile matched the heavily front-loaded offer sheet Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Burnside acknowledges it sounds like a fanciful notion, but believes Weber would fetch a significant return that could put the Predators over the top. The 30-year-old blueliner carries what Burnside considers a “manageable” annual salary-cap hit of $7.8 million, plus he lacks a no-trade clause.
The Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets could certainly use Weber's skills, experience and leadership on their respective bluelines. Burnside wonders if the Oilers might part with a package of center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and either winger Jordan Eberle or forward Leon Draisaitl, or if the Blue Jackets would offer up center Ryan Johansen. He also mused about offering up Weber to the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins for Evgeni Malkin or perhaps Sidney Crosby.
Responding to a reader's question about Weber's trade status, The Tennessean's Adam Vingan claims Poile remains reluctant to deconstruct his defense. Vingan also notes the Weber trade speculation has become “an almost annual rite,” but feels Poile has no interest in moving his captain.
It's certainly understandable why Weber keeps surfacing in the rumor mill. While his cap hit may seem manageable to some, it's expensive for a traditionally budget-conscious club like the Predators. Without trade restrictions, Poile can ship Weber anywhere.
The Preds captain is considered an elite blueliner and would bring in attractive bids if placed on the trade block this season. He would certainly fetch a package that would boost Nashville's lagging offense.
However, Weber's cap hit is also very difficult to move during a season when so many teams carry limited cap space. Poile's asking price is bound to be out of the comfort zone of most suitors.
Most importantly, the Predators GM simply doesn't appear interested in moving Weber. Since matching the Flyers offer sheet, Poile has consistently maintained he has no desire to trade his captain. His tune remains unchanged.
If the Predators once again fail to make strides toward Cup contention status this season, perhaps Poile will decide to shake things up. Assuming he puts Weber on the trade block, that move probably won't happen until the off-season, when teams have more available cap space and more interest in swinging major deals for notable stars.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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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