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Preds GM: Signing Suter and Weber still “first choice”

Dec 19, 2011, 12:41 PM EDT

Suter and Weber Getty Images

The Nashville Predators have won five straight and catapulted themselves back into the top eight of the Western Conference. Given the current playoff picture, Preds GM David Poile is going to have a heck of a decision to make prior to the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 27, 2012.

Of course, we’re referring to defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. The former is a pending unrestricted free agent, the latter is restricted but could become UFA the following summer.

“Well, our first choice is to sign them,” Poile told the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman recently. “That hasn’t changed.”

And that would be the best-case scenario.

The worst case would be failing to get a long-term commitment out of Suter prior to the trade deadline, rolling the dice and keeping the duo for the stretch run, missing the playoffs and watching Suter walk away for nothing. Then Weber looks around, doesn’t see Suter and decides he’ll be moving on as well.

Just imagine for a moment if the worst case happened. Would the Preds even be close to a playoff team without Suter and Weber? How would their fans react to losing two of the most popular players in franchise history? Nashville does a great job selling hockey in a non-traditional market, but a winning team is a big part of that. Can you think of a franchise in a southern market that fills the building with a losing team? There isn’t one.

So let’s say Suter tells Poile before the trade deadline that he won’t be signing with the Preds – and that would be the gentlemanly thing for Suter to do if that’s what he decides. What does Poile do? If he can trade Suter and get a significant return – one that might make Weber think twice about leaving – he has to make that deal, right?

As Friedman writes, “Until one or both sign, this story isn’t going away. But Poile’s going to make us sit back and wait for the climax.”

(Gotta be a better way to say that.)

  1. bcisleman - Dec 19, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    I believe Poile will get it done. That said, were I him, I’d give Suter a set deadline 1-2 weeks before 2/27/12. If a contract is not signed by then, I’d look to deal him.

  2. elvispocomo - Dec 19, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    If it is true that ownership has allowed them to spend to the cap, I don’t see any reason monetarily they can’t get it done. If there is a self-imposed cap still, that would hamper efforts, as would any reservations Suter or Weber might have.

    The other question is, can do that and find a way to add to their forwards still? With them churning out more D from their ‘factory’ would it maybe suit them more to keep one and trade the other for two younger players/prospects that have high potential (one forward, one D)? Maybe a move to get one of Phoenix or New Jersey’s many talented D prospects and a forward?

    • danphipps01 - Dec 19, 2011 at 8:58 PM

      Aye, that’s a smart way of looking at it. Try to deal Suter to one such team for an upgrade in offense and continue churning out absurdly competent D.

      On the other hand… I don’t know, does Weber really want to hang around, or does he want to take his Norris-competitive performance and invest it in a team hunting Lord Stanley’s? True, he could try to wait it out with the Predators, but do you figure on them winning anytime soon? They’re a work in progress and at least a few years away. He might not want to wait when a team like the Flyers pretty much matches his style to a tee and *may* (and hopefully it’s not a given – I want Pronger to finish his career in style) have an open spot for him to jump into. And that’s just one idea. Aside from the Bruins, pretty much any contender would benefit greatly from his services. He might stay in Nashville. But with as many options elsewhere as he has, he may very well not.

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