NHL Trade Rumors: Nashville Predators Must Keep Shea Weber Next Season

Steven SlivkaCorrespondent IIIJuly 16, 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

After losing Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild, the Nashville Predators are in a deep hole if defenseman Shea Weber decides to skip town as well.

Weber led all Nashville defensemen with 19 goals and 49 points last season. He was a pivotal piece to their success which landed them the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference and their second 100-plus-point season in the last three years.

With Weber and Suter, along with Vezina trophy-finalist Pekka Rinne between the pipes, Nashville finished the regular season with a goals against average of 2.50, good enough for 10th best in the NHL.

Now, Suter is gone and the Predators are desperate to keep their other prized defenseman.

After going through arbitration with Weber in 2011, other teams are now able to sign him to an offer sheet, a thought has Predator fans nervous.

Since he broke in with Nashville in 2005, Weber has put up tremendous numbers. He's played in at least 78 games in six of his seven NHL seasons and he's solidified himself as one of he premier defenseman in the league.

Although the panic level shouldn't be very high in terms of losing Weber, Nashville is more desperate than ever to retain him after the Minnesota Wild swooned Suter away from the Music City.

Weber and the Nashville front office were able to extend the deadline for a qualifying offer to August 1, which gives both parties a chance to think about what is best for the future.

Nashville G.M. David Poile was bitter about losing Suter to free agency, and needs to save face by keeping Weber in gold and blue for a long time.

Poile publicly stated his distaste of Suter's decision via the Tennessean:

"Whether this franchise is in Timbuktu, the one point of not choosing to stay and play with Shea Weber, I will never, ever understand that."

Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote that Weber would be a great fit for the Rangers with defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh.

"If the defense-first-last-and-always Rangers could get Weber, they would stand to have at least one Norris-caliber defenseman on the ice essentially all game. There is something to be said for doubling down on a strength."

In a perennial market like New York, Weber would be welcomed to the Rangers organization with open arms. He's a three-time All Star, a gold-medal winner, and he's only 27 years old.

Not to mention the Rangers have plenty of pieces to send over in a deal if one were to be proposed.

For the Predators, losing Suter and Weber would decimate them defensively.

Though the two camps still have two weeks to work out a long-term deal, it seems likely Weber will remain with the Predators, hopefully easing the blood pressure of Poile.