The Predators’ front office has proven that they are not exactly cruel by releasing David Legwand from Predatorial purgatory, so does that mean that the Predators can or will follow suit with a star like Shea Weber?
Shea Weber is currently omitted from ESPN.com’s Norris Trophy Tracker despite being tied for most goals of defensemen. The Shea-riff is also in the top ten points and the top twenty in assists for defensemen. However, the Norris Trophy is all about defense, right? I doubt that there are any other defensemen that are as feared by opposing forwards as Shea Weber. So why is he left out of the Norris Trophy rankings.
Despite his high point production among defensemen, Shea Weber suffers from a negative +/- ranking, and also has a higher number of penalty minutes than many of his contemporary elite defensemen. All of the defensemen in the top 20 +/- ranking currently play for teams that are proficient at putting pucks in the net such as Chicago, Anaheim, or Boston. Now, the Norris Trophy winner should not necessarily come from a team that is already good, but would Shea Weber find more individual success on more well-rounded team?
As seen in the Olympics, Shea Weber shines when surrounded with the big boys. Keeping Shea Weber in Nashville only hurts his legacy. The Predators could ship him out and get an awesome package in return. Why don’t they move him?
There are several major factors that prevent the move of someone like Shea Weber. The first reason is morale. The Predators’ fan base has throw tantrum after tantrum this year as the the Predators move closer and closer to post-season exclusion. As we all know, this will be the second season in a row that the Preds have not worked their way into post-season contention, and my how we forget the glorious run of 2012. Moving Shea Weber would be equivalent to the management walking out of the Appomattox Courthouse waving the white flag, and I don’t think that the fan base has the strength to follow through with reconstruction. The fans would be the first to lose morale.
In addition, Shea Weber’s departure would surely affect the current team. It has to be a source of some pride for current Predators to know that one of the worlds’ elite is manning the blue line for you around thirty minutes a night. The morale would certainly be hurt.
In 2012, the Flyers offered Shea Weber an eye-bulging offer sheet (I prefer the term ransom) that would take effect before the later negotiated CBA. The CBA sought to regulate Weber-size contracts. The real damning part of Shea’s contract is the fact that it is so front loaded that it makes it easier the longer you put up with it (kind of the opposite of marriage, I guess). Unfortunately for Shea, he is locked up here until many of the younger fans have graduated from high school. This is great for fans, but it must suck to be in that situation for Shea Weber.
Shea Weber’s slap shot has done wonders wearing away the chip on his shoulder from the 2003 draft where he was drafted after, yes after, Ryan Suter. Shea Weber would obviously be in the running for the Norris Trophy if he was on a more high-octane team like Boston, Anaheim, or Chicago that could better support and show-off his all around talent as a hockey player. Ultimately, Shea Weber’s monstrously front-loaded contract hems him into the Predators’ permanent fabric. So for now and for a long time it seems, there is only one Shea-riff in this town.