Silence is Golden, at least that seems to be the golden rule prevailing over 501 Broadway the past few days in wake of Ryan Suter's decision to sign with the Minnesota Wild. It has officially been over a week (if you can believe that) and there hasn't been anything to talk about besides a reported "good conversation" between Poile, Weber, and Weber's agent (Jarret Bousqet). Further negotiations will commence a week from now.
If all this sounds familiar, I would encourage you to look back at all the press releases between Ryan Suter and David Poile. Same headlines, different players. The question now is: Will the results be different for these two star players?
I am of the opinion, and I will defend it to the bitter end, that trading Weber is better for our organization as it moves forward. The amount of top end prospects, draft picks, and potential roster players could ultimately fill in holes that we have always had on our roster (first line center, top three wingers). While replacing Weber and Ryan is all but impossible (yes impossible), we have a stable of young defenseman to soften the blow. Further more, the trade market seems to have a plethora of defenseman that could potentially be available for the Predators to pick up for a relatively inexpensive cost (Jay Bouwmeester and Paul Martin to name a few).
Ultimately, you have to look at our current predicament at face value: Weber has had since July 1st, 2010. That's over two years ago. If Shea hasn't signed by now (much like Suter), I don't see why anyone would think he would have a sudden change of heart and sign on the dotted line. If I were Poile (which I am glad I am not), I would give Shea a deadline date of July 19th. If he does not commit to the team by then, it is time to trade him to the highest bidder that Weber will sign a long-term extension with, regardless of what team or division. At this point in our history, it means more to us to get maximum value than it does to keep him out of the Western Conference.
I would then trade for one of the previously mentioned defensemen to round out our blue line and try to sign an upgrade or two at forward and go into the season as a cap floor team. Let Craig Smith and the young core try to carry the team. If we make it to the playoffs, bully for us. If we don't, hopefully we will be so bad that we can draft near the top of the board and get an elite talent that this team desperately needs. With a plethora of talented prospects from the draft and the Weber trade, our rebuild won't nearly be as painful as most other teams. We will also have bucket loads of money saved up from being a floor team from the previous year to really make a splash at free agents or potential trades for star players in the future. Either way we win.
Some people will view my opinion as heat of the moment or that of a jilted lover, but this has been a thought in the back of my mind since last summer when Weber was taken to arbitration. The organization's window of opportunity slammed shut when Suter shut the door on the Predators. With Weber still in doubt, it is better to turn the page and begin a rebuild that will be made substantially easier with the assets gained from dealing Weber than be strung out all summer trying to determine if he is staying or going. Rebuilds are never fun, but if done correctly, they can end up being better for your organization. I trust David Poile do to the right things, make the right calls, and ultimately keep us on track to a Stanley Cup title.
So I ask you, dear reader, is Shea Weber more valuable as a member of the team or as the king's ransom the Predators would get in return for him in a trade?
In addition to our own silence the rest of the league appears to be holding its breath as well due to CBA negotiations and the uncertainty of the Shea Weber negotiations. If the CBA is finalized before Weber is signed, all eyes will be on Nashville.