NHL Trade Rumors: Is Shea Weber Destined for the New York Rangers?

Brandon GudovitzCorrespondent IIJuly 10, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 07:  Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators skates with the puck in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on May 7, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Predators 2-1 to win the series 4 games to 1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Many free agents sat idle waiting for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to announce their next destinations. When the greatly anticipated announcement came, the Minnesota Wild banked the two coveted free agents.

In a strange twist, Shea Weber apparently was waiting to see if his defensive partner would return to Nashville. Upon hearing the news that Suter had moved on from Nashville, Weber declined arbitration, raising speculation he might be on his way out.  

Why Shea Weber would be a perfect fit for the New York Rangers:

Since breaking into the league, Weber has appeared in 480 regular season games. He is averaging 14 goals and over 37 points since 2005. Last year he achieved a career high in the plus/minus category, registering a plus-21.

Standing at 6'4" and weighing in at 232 lbs, this all-star defender has a laser for a shot. His play puts him on every NHL team's radar. But unlike offensively-gifted defensemen, like Ottawa's Erik Karlsson, Weber is dominant in the defensive zone.

Weber already plays a John Tortorella-friendly system in Nashville. He is a tough and physical player, and hits like a freight train. Weber blocks shot as well.

The Rangers are looking to add scoring to their lineup. Right now it appears that much of their focus has been on Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash, but Weber could change their concentration. Weber's 19 goals would have put him fourth on last year's Rangers squad for goals.

For the last couple of seasons the Rangers have been trying to find an answer for a poor power play. The Rangers were on a search to find a defenseman who could serve as a power play quarterback. Last year, Brad Richards and Michael Del Zotto shared that responsibility. Once again, the Rangers power play struggled while Nashville's soared, much to Weber's credit. Weber was on the ice for 47 of the Predators' 54 power play goals.  

The Rangers arguably had the best defensive corps in the NHL last season. Rangers general manager Glen Sather could be entertaining the idea of solidifying that by acquiring Weber. Like the Blueshirts' young core, Weber, only 26 years old, already has experience playing in front of one of the league's premier goaltenders. Defensively, he seems perfect for this Rangers squad.

A trade for Weber will cost any team plenty. 

His services has made "Sather's untouchables" very obtainable. Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Mcdonagh, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan and Chris Krieder are the new short list that Sather will not part ways with to get this deal done. Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik both have no-move or no-trade clause that keep them as permanent fixtures to the Ranger's organization. The question: Is Shea Weber worth busting open the piggy bank?

The last several Stanley Cup champions had a big-time goaltender paired with an all-star defender.  Boston had Thomas and Chara, Chicago had Niemi and Keith, and New York could have Lundqvist and Weber.  Is Shea Weber really the missing link for the Rangers and that ever-elusive Stanley Cup?