If Shea Weber were made available in a trade, the Rangers would forget about Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan, and would gladly pay Nashville the asking price for a defender that could solve their power play woes and much more.
Thank Ryan Suter.
When Suter left for the Wild, Weber began doubting his own future in Nashville, according to one of his agents via ESPN. Weber, a restricted free agent, is now without his defensive partner and may not be liking the future he envisions with the Predators.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Weber most likely won't sign a one-year deal of any kind because of the uncertainty of the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations that may restrict contracts signed in 2013.
Weber will be looking to follow the examples set by Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, and Jonathan Quick, and sign a front-loaded deal that runs in excess of 10 years rather than face the unknown restrictions of a new CBA after January 1.
Nashville GM David Poile said recently via the Tennessean, “It’s all about talking about Shea and to see if we can get him signed to a longer-term contract with the Predators. My conversations have always been very positive with Shea, his role and his future with the organization in terms of where the franchise is going.”
This sounds a lot like what Poile said in the aftermath of losing Suter and we should know before August whether Weber will go as well. I sympathize greatly for Poile, a guy who seemed to have good personal relationships with both his star defenders, yet neither will accept a long-term multi-million dollar contract from him.
So, if Poile can't convince Weber to stay, what (or rather who) would it take for the Rangers to make a deal?
Weber has greater value than Rick Nash in a possible trade because he is a right-sided defenseman who is one of the best in the NHL at quarterbacking the power play. The point position on the power play was a major weakness for the Rangers and a rare commodity in the NHL.
The Rangers wouldn't disrupt their young core for Nash, but for Weber, the list of "untouchables" could fit in a taxi. According to Brooks, only Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Chris Kreider are off limits; everyone else would be considered in an effort to get Weber, excluding Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards because of no-trade clauses.
Weber's prowess on the power play may be the goalscoring boost the team needs. Brooks points out that, during the regular season, the Rangers ranked 11th in goals scored per game and 23rd in power-play efficiency, suggesting that fixing the power play could have the same effect as adding a marquee winger.
In addition, Weber's skills and discipline at the blue line would make the team's defense—already their strength—even stronger.
The Rangers are looking for offense, but adding one of the best defenders in the league may be a better option for the power play, for the defensive zone, and for the locker room.
And for the sake of keeping him off another team.