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With or without Shea Weber, Nashville has big questions

Jul 22, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Martin Erat, Shea Weber Getty Images

While Nashville GM David Poile ponders whether or not to match the 14-year offer sheet put forth by Philly to captain Shea Weber, he’s got his hands full fixing the team one way or another no matter what.

Nashville’s troubles abound at every position other than in goal, but on defense life could be miserable.

Losing Ryan Suter is hard enough to manage but losing Weber would make the job for veterans like Hal Gill and Kevin Klein as well as youngsters like Roman Josi, Jonathon Blum, and Ryan Ellis that much more difficult. Production from guys like Suter and Weber is nearly impossible to replicate and asking the guys left behind to make up for that is asking perhaps too much. At least Barry Trotz’s system is still in place to help them out.

If Weber stays that’s a huge relief to this entire group, but the issues surrounding the rest of the team are immense and for Weber, it’ll make him feel like he’s taken a trip back in time.

Offensively, the Preds are still hurting. They’ve parted ways with playoff distractions Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn as Radulov headed back to the KHL and Kostitsyn is a free agent. Both of them were late season additions, but on a team that was already offensively lacking, losing guys that can fill the net is no good.

The pressure once again falls on the shoulders of Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn, Patric Hornqvist, and Martin Erat to score goals. They’re solid but not game-breakers. Youngsters like Craig Smith and potentially 2010 draft pick Austin Watson may get long looks to see if they can spark the team.

Progress has been Nashville’s thing for many seasons, but it’s hard to look forward when things may just be taking a huge step backwards.

  1. mojosmagic - Jul 22, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Their best bet is to young players back from the Flyers along with a few of the picks. Signing Weber would actually set them back because to much money would be locked up in one player. Even keeping Weber with the idea of trading him latter could back fire on several fronts. A new CBA with a lower CAP figure might lessen a big market teams ability to fit in Webers front loaded contract. A potential injury could harm Nashville’s ability to trade him. Lastly Weber does not want to play in Nashville and does not want to be part of their rebuilding process.

  2. vshehane - Jul 22, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    I love the way everyone wants to talk about rebuilding. Toots wasn’t a force and Suter is a good, not great player. Rads literally added nothing but trouble.

  3. kiltimar - Jul 22, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    No offense, but this blog just shows that there’s a lack of true knowledge about the Predators, and is a typical outside opinion.
    “Both of them were late season additions, but on a team that was already offensively lacking, losing guys that can fill the net is no good.”

    The Predators were ninth in the league in scoring last year, and had at least 11 players with double digit goals. One of only two teams to accomplish that.

    Losing Radulov and Kostitsyn doesn’t really mean anything to this team. They were actually a better team before those two came onboard. Check the Predators run before the ASB as opposed to their record after the trade deadline. Much better before.

    So the only real loss for the Predators is Ryan Suter. Having watch Suter over his entire Predators career, I can honestly say that he mailed in his performance since the ASG, playing to not get hurt, not hustling to the puck and turning it over quite a bit. He was atrocious to the point where fans were calling his motivations into question.

    Everyone thinks Weber and Suter made Pekka look better than he was, but I contend that it’s the opposite. Pekka made those two look better than they were. The Preds still have Pekka. If Weber stays that will be a tremendous boost, and the team would only have to replace Suter with a good 2nd line defenseman. Pekka can handle the workload.

    If Weber walks then the Preds should be concerned, but they really haven’t lost as much as people think if he stays.

    • predswilrule - Jul 22, 2012 at 11:12 AM

      Well said. Typical uninformed piece. The Preds certainly lack star power up front and have needed a real “scorer” for a while, BUT our offense was much improved last year and that is ignored in this article. If Weber leaves then i agree we are going to take a step or two back. If the Preds match, and i believe they will, we are w/o 2 late season distractions and a really good dman from our last years roster. Toots was a fan fav, but brought little to the table consistently. Suter will likelly be replaced by Josi to play w/ Weber and I’m sure a vet dman will be signed. Will the Preds be cup contender…no, but they will be in the mix to get in the playoffs and have the best dman in the league signed long term.

    • theawesomersfranchise - Jul 22, 2012 at 11:19 AM

      The loss of Suter and might take this 104 point team down to 94. And 94 point teams are still no joke.

  4. mclovinhockey - Jul 22, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    The thing is, weber and suter helped the O so much that it will be harder without them.
    I think you do let weber walk, then offer 2 of the firsts back with a 2nd from Nashville for voracek… Maybe 3 of the firsts for voracek and MAB…. Or just give all 4 back for voracek, MAB and Mez….I think the flyers would be overpaying for those picks back but it would prob settle some of the rough waters between the two teams after this.

    • phillyphever - Jul 22, 2012 at 1:13 PM

      Forget it, I rather lose 4 #1s than trade Voracek. The only way I trade Voracek is for Bobby Ryan. Otherwise, resign him and put him with Giroux and Hartnell.

      • mclovinhockey - Jul 22, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        voracek is very similar to giroux in style of play, not sure the line would work out as much as it would in theory. If the flyers had Datsyuk and Giroux we would not put them on the same line for the same reason… two play makers on one line who like to handle the puck does not always work out well.

  5. ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Jul 22, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    The preds should simply match the offer to weber and then offer sheet Voracek for around 4.5 annually. If it means giving up a first and third round pick so be it. Voracek is worth it and it provides them with more offense which they also need.

    In doing so it also sends a message to their fans that they are serious about continuing to make the playoffs and both deals bring them to 53 million…….Just 1 million below the cap floor.

    • theawesomersfranchise - Jul 22, 2012 at 12:13 PM

      Right idea, wrong player

    • mclovinhockey - Jul 22, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      while Voracek would be worth it, the reason Matching Webers offer is not as easy as it sounds is due to MONEY.
      Nashville has trouble hitting the cap floor because they do not have enough money devoted to spending on players, if they had enough money to just match the offer and then go buy a player like voracek or kane they would do that, the cash is not there… no matter what happens look to the Preds making some strange moves this offseason, they will need to get big cap hits who are on the ass end of contracts so they will only be getting paid less than half of what the hit it… guys like Tim Thomas would be perfect.

  6. prov1x - Jul 22, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Who is this guy? Lose Suter and Tootoo and Preds are rebuilding? Not. Lose Weber, another story.

  7. isithockeyseasonyet - Jul 22, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Wasn’t it weber who started the rebuilding talk? And with what money are the predators going to match the 2nd largest NHL contract with and then pry a guy like voracek or any strong player away from a big market team? Sorry to rain on your parade guys but that’s not how the food chain works

  8. bspray - Jul 22, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    I think people are making too big an issue of Suter leaving. I think the fact is, Nashville wasn’t really in a position to pay big money to both Suter and Weber. Of the two, obviously I think everyone would agree that they would rather have Weber.

    Things that I don’t read anyone discussing include the loss of Jack Hillen. I think he had the ability to adequately replace Suter. He probably wasn’t as good as Suter but he was rock solid and smart and he wasn’t that big of a drop off. I like the young guys in the defensive stable for Nashville and I think keeping Gil was a good move but I think losing Hillen is a big story everyone is missing.

    On the offensive side, I think this is the year you will see Gabriel Borque really start to emerge. This guy has the skill set, he really needs more ice time on a quality line. I also wouldn’t mind seeing the Predators go after a legit scoring threat at some point this season. They are still deep on the defensive side of the house will all the young guys (assuming they keep Weber) and putting a couple of those guys on the block with a draft pick or two to get a legit 1st line scorer might be just what this team needs to be a legit contender.

    Losing Suter isn’t the end of the world. If this team can keep Weber and pick up a scorer they are still a contender. If they lose Weber, they are still a playoff caliber team.

    YMMV,
    Brian

  9. mojosmagic - Jul 22, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    My comment was based on money. Nashville in a small market doesn’t have it. Webers deal is worth 27M in the 1st fiscal year alone and over 50M total in the first 4 years. Sign Weber and then do what? Raise ticket prices through the roof? What free agents is Nashville going to sign? Take the 4 #1 picks giving you 8 # 1 and a lot if flexibility to improve.

  10. drummerdave20 - Jul 22, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Nashville isn’t going to put all of that money, not to mention bonuses, upfront for one player. he’s already said he doesn’t want to be there. so why would they do that?? and the flyers will not get rid of young talent like voracek unless they get young talent (bobby Ryan) back. the flyers said no to trading coutourier and schenn for weber. but here’s the deal. Shane doan loved his visit here. if the preds match(doubt it), we re going to sign doan. if they don’t. we re keeping voracek. and we’ll have weber. it’s a win win for us.

  11. natlbnkilr - Jul 22, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    It’s time all of you people that think the Preds can’t match the Weber offer sheet look up a gentleman by the name of W. Brett Wilson.

  12. dannythebisforbeast - Jul 22, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Conspiracy theory:
    Poile and Holmgren being frequent trade partners worked this out themselves. Nashville knowing they are havin hard tim signing and if they flat out trade him, they look bad to the fans. Homey swoops in offers a ridiculous contract. Poile steps to the podium and says we love Shea Weber but we cannot match the Flyers offer because it would leave the franchise broke. Nashville takes four ones or the predetermined trade. Fans aren’t in complete uproar, everyone comes out clean.

  13. mojosmagic - Jul 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    Nat, W. Brett Wilson owns 12% of the Preds and his proportionate share is worth about 19M. Weber is due 27M in the next 12 months if the Preds match.So what’s your point? He could pull the money out of his pocket and pay Weber but I don’t think business works that way.

  14. natlbnkilr - Jul 23, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    My point Mo is simple… it is rumored that he has already gaurenteeed the $ for the Weber contract if all is in agreeance. He may also be the part of the ownership that has stated the Preds will be a cap team. And… Why do you say business doesn’t work that way? Do you honestly think each owner of a group would put in an equil share of $? And to hit on the premiss that Shea doesn’t want to play for the Preds… no one has heard that from hi, only his loud mouth agent. If you know anything about Shea, and it appears you don’t… he’s about as quiet and reserved as it gets. He knows damn well that the Peds have said all along they would match any offer sheet for him… must be happy to stay here since he signed it. Got it??

  15. natlbnkilr - Jul 24, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    Where you at Mo??? How about them apples… I thought the Preds couldn’t match??? Thank you Mr. Wilson ;-)

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