Shea Weber (Getty Images)
Could Shea Weber's big contract and potentially forthcoming declining play be enough for the Predators to consider dealing him? What will the Bruins do to bolster their defense? And who will eventually sign Cody Franson?
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.
Predators GM David Poile has consistently denied any plans to trade Weber. He undoubtedly believes the Predators chances for a deep playoff run depend upon a healthy Weber in the lineup.
A lot can happen over the course of a season to change things. Maybe the level of Weber’s play drops off. The need to re-sign Forsberg and Jones could force Poile to consider clearing some cap space. Perhaps a desperate team makes a pitch too good for the Predators GM to refuse.
If Poile pulls the trigger on a Weber trade, don't expect it to happen during the course of the regular season. The earliest will be in late-June leading up to the NHL draft, when teams have more cap space and a willingness to swing big deals.
B’S HUNTING FOR ‘D’
The Boston Bruins are still seeking depth for their defense. They're linked to free-agent blueliners Cody Franson and Christian Ehrhoff, but GM Don Sweeney is considering another option.
CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty reports Sweeney acknowledged discussions with puck-moving UFA Marek Zidlicky, who split last season between the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings. Though long in the tooth at 38, Zidlicky reached the 30-point mark last season for the eighth time in his career.
The Bruins currently have more than $4 million in cap space to add another defenseman, but Haggerty speculates Sweeney will wait until training camp to evaluate his needs. Waiting that long could also force those UFA blueliners to lower their asking prices.
Don't expect the Bruins to pursue a big-name rearguard via the trade market. Responding to a reader's question asking about Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien, Haggerty dismissed that notion, pointing out the Bruins would have to free up cap space to absorb Byfuglien's $5.2-million cap hit.
WHERE WILL FRANSON LAND?
The Bruins aren't the only club linked for UFA defenseman Cody Franson. Sportsnet's Mike Johnson also lists the Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres as possible destinations.
Despite the Stars' additions this summer of veteran Johnny Oduya and the promising Stephen Johns, Johnson believes their blueline still needs improvement. Uncertainty over Slava Voynov's future (he's currently serving a 90-day jail sentence on a domestic violence charge) makes the Kings a possibility.
Cap issues, however, are a factor for both clubs. The Stars only have around $2.3-million available, well below what Franson wants on a long-term deal. While the Kings freed up cap space by terminating Mike Richards' contract, Voynov's return would still take up a significant chunk.
The Coyotes and Sabres could use Franson and have plenty of cap space, but that doesn't mean they're keen to overpay for his services. They could be waiting to see if they can get him for a more affordable deal. It's also possible they simply aren't that interested in signing him.
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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