By now, you have already heard that the Nashville Predators lost top defenseman Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild, as the prize free agent took his talents to the Minnesota Wild, along with Zach Parise. The Preds were hopeful that they could hang onto Suter, but once it became clear that he and Parise were most likely a package deal, Nashville quickly fell out of the race.
That leaves the Predators with a big enough hole going forward, but could they be getting ready to face another large gap on the blue line shortly?
Captain Shea Weber was obviously hoping that the Predators would be able to retain the services of Suter, as the two made up one of the more formidable back lines in the National Hockey League. But with Suter departing for greener pastures – both literally and figuratively – Weber must be thinking what the future holds for him in Nashville.
And whether or not his true future is even going to be as a member of the Predators.
While Weber never wanted to think about what may happen if Suter does sign with another team, that situation has now become a reality. Suter is gone, and Weber is a restricted free agent. After seeing how much money other teams were willing to throw Suter’s way, Weber has to know that he is quite an attractive consolation prize to the countless teams who missed out on signing Suter.
With negotiations still going on with Suter, or at least an active dialogue, Weber had not entered into any serious discussions with the Predators, or any other team for that matter. He had not signed an offer sheet, nor had any real numbers been mentioned.
But now, things could change in a hurry.
The Predators plan on matching any sheet a team may offer to Weber, although there is speculation that if a team came along and offered a huge one year deal worth over $13 or $14 million, that Nashville would be unable to match. Depending on the financial breakdown, the Predators may be forced to watch two of its’ best players leave through free agency and receive draft picks as compensation for Weber departing.
It is something that as of this minute, the Predators are hoping to not have to even think about, although it is not beyond the realm of possibilities. Four first round draft picks may sound nice, but not when it comes at the expense of losing some of your top talent that you had planned to build the team around.
Unfortunately, things could continue to get worse in Nahville before they get better, which is a shame, considering the Preds appeared to be well on their way to building something special for years to come, especially with Pekka Rinne in net. But if Weber departs the same way Suter did, can you really expect Rinne’s numbers to be as stellar without his two top defensemen playing in front of him in net?