Summer Wind: Shea Weber Trade Talk Persists

USATSI_8411776_154158418_lowresAs detailed in our look at the Nashville Predators, there’s a lot to like about this team’s defence. Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, Barret Jackman, and Mattias Ekholm are all game-changing blueliners.

Naturally, such an embarrassment of riches on the back end has led to speculation and talk that one big piece of the puzzle has to go. That piece is Weber, one of the best defencemen in the NHL.

Summer is generally a time for wandering speculation and what-ifs, with countless articles debating countless fantastical trade scenarios.

In the case of Weber, the firing point is how strong the Predators are. That, in the minds of some, has meant that Weber is “expendable” and therefore adequate trade bait. The scenario should theoretically address weaknesses in the Predators’ roster, which would be at the forward position. But how realistic or wise is it to trade Weber?

The Talk

A recent poll on NBC Sports has public opinion looking rather divided, with around 54 percent of respondents saying that the Predators shouldn’t trade Weber.

Throw in the well-publicized chatter that the Boston Bruins are shopping for a top-tier defenceman and you’ve got a recipe for a trade in the making. Sending Weber to the Bruins requires a bit of tap dancing, however. For one, the Bruins are up against it in terms of the salary cap. Weber has a monstrous salary and Boston would have to give up the likes of a Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci to even things out.

Loui Eriksson has been the subject of recent trade rumours too, but the focus for the Bruins has reportedly been on Cody Franson.

The Reasons

There are some good reasons to trade Weber. He had a “down year” by his standards, posting some of his lowest career point totals. He’s not the only force driving the attack in Nashville, what with Jones and Josi emerging to share the burden of scoring from the blueline. Weber still powered the power play, with a third of his goals coming on the man-advantage.

Also, the Predators proved they can march on without Weber in the lineup. When he went down with an injury in the post-season, the other defencemen rallied and logged big minutes.

Money is another issue. Weber has the largest contract in team history and many argue that the Predators aren’t among the league’s big spenders. But they matched the Flyers’ offer sheet in 2012 and inked the blueliner to a front-loaded 14-year deal, illustrating just how badly they wanted to keep their man.

But the Predators of 2012 are more than a fair shade away from the Predators of 2015, aren’t they? When they piled their money together to ink Weber to that huge deal, they’d just lost defenceman Ryan Suter and couldn’t endure another huge loss to the blueline. Now, they have the depth to weather the storm.

Weber just turned 30, which makes him ancient in the minds of many. It hints to a decline, a decline many are seeing when looking closely at the numbers. Trading Weber now would exact maximum value on their player, wouldn’t it?

The Intangibles

There are reasons to trade Weber, as there are reasons to package up any player and ship them off to greener pastures. Trade rumours are driven by the fact that you can virtually plug any combination of names into the generator and pull the trigger. But there are other factors involved when it comes to actually making a move, factors that we rarely see in the light of day.

Shea Weber has been the cornerstone of the Nashville Predators and general manager David Poile is in no hurry to trade him. The team will survive without him, sure. But the intangibles, like how much Weber means to the Predators, aren’t so easily charted or graphed. There are no Corsi ratios to document the value of relationships, at least not yet.

The case can be made either way, of course. But the difference between talk and action is significant. It pays to remember that during this long, long summer.


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