The NHL's unquestioned best defensive pairing is now no more.
Wildly heralded as the league's best shutdown pair who could add offense to any situation, Nashville's elite pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter has been broken up.
Weber, who will turn 27 on August 14, is in his last year of restricted free agency.
Unable to come to a long-term deal with Nashville a year ago, Weber won the biggest arbitration hearing in league history and was awarded a one year contract of $7.5 million dollars.
If losing Suter wasn't enough, this is terrible news for the Predators.
Suter's paycheck with the Wild has now officially surpassed anything Weber has ever made in his life.
This is not good for the thrifty Nashville Predators who now have the most amount of cap space in the entire league.
With only four NHL level defensemen signed for next year, Weber can effectively name his price in Nashville.
In his short career, Weber has quite a hefty resume:
- 2012 Gold Medal Winning Olympian
- Current Captain of the Nashville Predators
- Three All-Star appearances
- Two time Norris Trophy candidate
- Seven years of NHL experience resulting in 99 goals and 164 assists for 263 points
What should the Preds do with Weber?
The ball is completely and utterly in Weber's court.
He holds all the cards, except one—his free agent status.
Nashville has two options:
The organization can make its pitch to him and convince him to stay in Nashville. This, of course, would mean that Weber should and would become the NHL's highest paid defenseman. If Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and Minnesota's Ryan Suter's contracts surprised you, they will not even be close to what Shea Weber could make if resigned.
The other of course being a trade. Should Nashville not be able to sign Weber to anything other than a one year contract, they need to trade him. While this would be absolutely devastating for the franchise's postseason dreams, Weber would bring in a king's ransom on the trade market.
One only has to imagine what they could get in return for arguably the best defensemen in the NHL. His resume and his age make Weber invaluable to any organization.
In today's NHL, when a high value player who is about to hit free agency says "I'd love to stay with Team X," it might as be the kiss of death to their current team. You need to look no further than Zach Parise to see that players will say anything to their teams and to the media to increase their value.