Should the Predators trade Shea Weber? Could they acquire a first-line center via trade? Are the Bruins still eyeing a free-agent defenseman? Read on for the latest.
Is now the right time for the Predators to trade Shea Weber?
PUCK DADDY: Josh Cooper lists five reasons why the time is finally right for the Nashville Predators to trade defenseman and captain Shea Weber within the next year. He feels the offers for Weber will be in the Predators’ favor, they’re strong on the blueline without him, Weber could be heading into a decline, 2016 RFAs Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones will need big raises, and it’s time to turn the franchise over to its rising young stars.
THE TENNESSEAN: Recently responding to a reader’s e-mail over how the Predators can address their need for a true first-line center, Adam Vingan reports Predators GM David Poile acknowledged he’s got two 35-plus centers (Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher) he’ll have to replace in a couple of years. Given how thin next summer’s UFA market will be for centers, Vingan speculates the Predators could go the trade route to address that need. An in-house option could be recently-signed Cody Hodgson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Or they could put Weber on the trade block within a year in hopes of landing a younger, established first-line center. Don’t expect that move to happen this summer or in training camp, but I wouldn’t rule it out by, say, the 2016 trade deadline (likely to be Feb. 29) if the Predators are out of playoff contention by then. If not, then perhaps that trade occurs by the June 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo. Weber’s lack of a no-trade clause gives Poile a wide range of potential trade destinations and options.
Poile will undoubtedly continue dismissing the Weber trade speculation, but cap constraints and the need for a long-term solution for a top-line center could make dealing the 29-year-old superstar defenseman an eventuality within the next couple of years. While the Preds have over $47.8 million invested in 11 players for 2016-17, it’s going to cost a lot to re-sign Forsberg and Jones, especially if they continue their development as expected. They’re also a budget club that avoids spending to the cap ceiling, so their actual cap ceiling is much lower than most.
Forget about getting Forsberg and Jones under cap-friendly bridge deals. What we saw this past summer with Dougie Hamilton in Boston and Brandon Saad in Chicago is teams with limited cap space that can’t easily afford big raises to top RFAs end up trading them or risk losing them to offer sheets from rival clubs. Having gone through that once before with Weber, I daresay Poile isn’t keen to repeat that process with Forsberg or Jones.
Bruins still looking at UFA defensemen.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty reports Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney recently acknowledged being in discussions with 38-year-old UFA defenseman Marek Zidlicky. Sweeney is also believed interested in Cody Franson and Christian Ehrhoff. The Bruins have about $4 million in cap space, meaning they might have to ship out a salaried player if they wish to add a blueliner like Zidicky or Franson. Haggerty speculates Sweeney and his staff will stand pat until training camp, when they’ll evaluate their defense corps before deciding if there’s an additional need to be addressed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins are pursuing Ehrhoff they might have to move quickly, as the Columbus Blue Jackets have reportedly made a “low-ball offer” to the German rearguard. If not, it’s likely to their advantage to wait and hope the asking prices of those available defensemen drop in the coming weeks.