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Ask The Staff: Trading Shea Weber

Weighing in on whether or not we think trading The Captain is a good idea.

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Our friend Josh Cooper wrote an opus for Puck Daddy stating some opinions that we've been going over in every comment section since last summer: the time is right for the Nashville Predators to trade Shea Weber. Cooper breaks it down to five main points:

  1. The offers will be ridiculously in Nashville’s favor 
  2. Nashville is strong on the blueline without Weber
  3. Was 2014-15 just a down year for Weber? Why wait to find out?
  4. Nashville’s 2016 RFA summer
  5. Turn the franchise over to someone new

Given the firestorm that this creates, we invite people to calm themselves before entering this arena of ideas.

We asked our staff writers to review Coop's piece, and answer some questions.

Should the Predators trade Shea Weber before the 2015-16 Season? And why?

Jon Garcia:

No. Even though the team would most likely be in OK shape without him (especially if the return is large), that doesn't mean he doesn't provide huge value to the team. Rinne likely isn't going to be saving 94% of the shots fired at him to start the season again. Nashville needs all of it to start out on the right foot, and figuring out where to go without their captain, 1D, and the current face of the franchise may require too much of an adjustment at this point. Plus, and this may seem sappy, the All Star Game is coming. Weber is far from the most electric personality, but it's hard to imagine not seeing him plastered all over buildings and busses for the team/league/city's big event. He really does mean a lot to the town and town and to the franchise.

Dan Bradley:

Yes, if the Predators can find a taker for Weber, Paul Gaustad, and Eric Nystrom in exchange for a legit top end #1 center, and good young defenseman that's right-handed, and maybe a prospect. David Poile kinda torpedoed this when he re-signed Ribeiro and Mike Fisher and then added Cody Hodgson. So to be able to fit the new pieces in, something needs to come out. Slide Fisher down to the 4th line, Mike Ribeiro to the second, and plug the new pieces in. I doubt this can happen at this point, but that's the lone circumstance I would endorse.

Jeremy Sargent:

Yes. As Cooper's and Martel's articles show, Weber might be in his decline and this might be the point where the Preds would get the highest return for him. Ryan Ellis and Seth Jones are an embarrassment of riches of right handed defenseman and especially Jones being our future. If we are serious about wanting to take the next step, we'll have to give to get and Weber would net us something significant if we find the right trade partner, but only if it gets at least a top 5 center in the league on a longer contract than 1-2 years.

George Scoville:

No. Not mentioned in Cooper's story were that Weber's #fancystats were arguably the worst of his career this past season. But still, no. Other clubs who have embraced the #fancystats revolution no doubt know that Weber has begun backsliding, and the offers at forward will reflect that. Factor in his cap hit, and I think Josh is crazy to say the offers will be rich.

But more than that, from the Preds perspective, they've plunked down a lot of money in a front-loaded contract since matching the offer sheet for the privilege of not winning a Stanley Cup. Doesn't that mean they should move him? No, a charitable interpretation of the decline is that Weber's usage was very different last season than it was, no thanks to nagging injuries (which Cooper mentioned) and upgrades at forward in a more offensive up-tempo system.

It's worth keeping him around for another season or two, especially given how much they've already paid him, and see if he rebounds. If not, he can surely still be traded to a desperate and crazy team.

Bryant Fair:

Maybe. Trading Weber would be huge for the franchise in that it could gain solidity in the center position—where there are question marks—for years to come. There are also problems with this move. More than likely the center wouldn't have as big of an impact as Weber. Let's also not forget about Weber's mammoth contract; a large part of which has already been paid off.

Furthermore, Jones would be thrust into the fire which could have a huge impact on his development; good or bad I'm not sure. All in all, trading Weber this summer is a question of short term struggles versus long term gains. As a prospect guy I'm all for waiting for things to come to fruition and I could stomach this, but I don't know if the people up front could.

If the Preds are serious about wanting to take the next step, they'll have to give to get. -Jeremy
Chris Link:

No. The Preds missed their window to trade Weber until the end of their 2015-2016 season. Poile should hold onto Weber for the All-Star Game. If Poile is holding onto Weber through the ASG, then you might as well keep him for the season. The only exceptions would be for a ludicrous offer from another team or if the Preds are in a really weak spot.

Kris Martel:

Yes. While most would argue that the biggest issue surrounding Shea is the money already doled out to him, and the fact that he's one of the most intimidating forces across the league, the fact of the matter is that Nashville will be just fine without Weber in their upcoming future. Would it be tough to lose a player like Weber? Absolutely, you can see the immediate results from this past playoff series against Chicago as to what could possibly happen.

However, after a brief adjustment period, the Predators would get along just fine without him. Nashville would foreseeably thrust Jones into the 1D spot alongside Josi, move Ekholm/Ellis to 2D and pair Jackman with Bartley. It's not the most ideal solution to replace Weber's presence, but the rewards for trading him off could prove to be the final piece of the puzzle for what the Predators have been missing in their quest for a Stanley Cup.

Yes, it would be difficult for the fan base, ticket sales, the organization, you name it. However, the ultimate prize is the Cup at the end of the season. Dealing Weber could be what it takes to get there.

Nick Rockwell

No. I can't see the Predators getting the return they'd hope for at this point in the offseason, not to mention the defensive hole his absence on the left side would leave. The Predators did servicably without Weber in the playoffs but an 82-game season would expose them. Ekholm could probably fill the role next to Josi but I don't trust Jackman or Bartley to play a top-4 role. Nor would I trust the Jones-Ellis and Jackman-Bartley/whoever pairings.

Zeke Starr:

It depends. I have absolutely no problem with trading Weber, but the window for this offseason has closed. The teams that were going to be bold and big already have been, while the rest of the league is in wait-and-see mode until the start of next season .

Weber is going to rebound next year. Regadess of his overall decline, next year will not be a dramatic drop off. I think it's silly, though not unheralded, for we as the media to dramatically start typing out obituaries for an adjusting and injured franchise cornerstone after a single down season. Weber is no longer indispensable and if the Preds are approached, they should one-hundred percent listen to offers, but next year's draft is the time to make a deal.

If the Predators do not trade him now, should the Predators trade Weber within the next two years?

Jon:

They should attempt to, absolutely, but they shouldn't do it just to do it. It has to address a major need. If there isn't going to be a decent return, there's no real reason to do it.
The good news is Weber will still likely be a productive and reliable player for a while. It isn't like he's dragging the team down; far from it. The other side of that is that Nashville has Jones and Roman Josi to fill his shoes. You also have to take his recapture penalty into consideration, as well as putting into perspective if letting him go will help the team in the long term. He's a player with ton of value, which would/could/should bring back value as well. But that value only lasts for so long.
It's a hard thing to think about because, like many Preds fans, Shea Weber the player means a lot to me. But this isn't a "trade a superstar because he hasn't hacked it so far" type of move. My thought process is painfully let go of a beloved player if it will benefit the greater good of the team. But damn is that a painful thought.

Dan:

That's a bit more realistic. In 2017, Ribeiro and Fisher will be out of contract and the team will need to re-tool some. The value of Weber will go down, but by then Seth Jones will have progressed enough to where he'll be ripe for the top line, whereas now moving Jones up to the top pair may be a bit rushed. Seth's metrics from last year didn't blow anyone away, but he's marching forward in his development. Right now Weber has maximum trade value, so I won't expect the same bounty in two years. But it still should be enough to land what this team sorely needs.

Bryant:

Yes. Forsberg, Josi, and Jones will all be young stars on the top line and should carry more importance to the team in financial terms than Weber. Ribeiro and Fisher will also falter at some point. Like Dan said, when their contracts expire in 2017 seems about the right time, but their times could come sooner than that, making 2016 the year. It's a move that retools the team for years to come and is something a non-traditional market team like the Predators with the need for continual success needs to do.

George:

It depends. See my comment above. Continue tracking performance and usage, and evaluate on an ongoing basis. Winning a Stanley Cup will go a long way toward resolving this question.

Sarge:

I hate to say but if the Predators waited that long, Weber might regress even more. He's not getting any younger and we will have paid him another $8-16M additional lump sum payments. If we keep him past this next season, then the Preds keep him for the remainder of the contract for better or worse.

Link:

The Predators absolutely should trade him within the next couple years. All the bonuses that’ve been paid out are a sunk cost. If a bad decision is haunting you, exorcise it. The idea of tolerating a bad contract because the worst is behind you doesn’t stop making it a bad contract. Weber not having any sort of NTC or NMC may be a life saver.

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Kris:

I still think they should give it a shot two seasons from now when he doesn't have a signing bonus to pay out. Weber would still have eight years on his contract with no money upfront due each season. He may not be able to land the 1C the team needs right now, but he still could land plenty of pieces in return.

Nick:

I think they should explore the opportunity after the 2015-2016 season. Weber will be 31 during the 2016-2017 season and he will probably still have good value then, though not as much than he does right now. Still, the price needs to be right. Despite his mediocre metrics he still is a big part of the team.

Zeke:

YES. I should first start by saying that I was against matching the offer sheet when the Flyers made it (just look at what we could have gotten). But I completely understand why the franchise had to match. Weber's importance transcended his on-ice play. He gave a team in a growing market name recognition and a stylistic identity that they desperately needed at the time.

Nashville doesn't need that anymore. With rising stars in Forsberg, Josi and Jones along with established names in Rinne and Neal, the Preds are no longer a nameless group surrounding Weber, and whether we want to admit it or not, he is the last pleasant aspect of the team's past era both in style and age. I think the assumption that no one is interested is ridiculous. This isnt a Vincent Lecavalier situation, Weber is still one of the top defesneman in the league and  he is an asset on any contending team (or maybe for Toronto to use as Stamkos bait?).

Likewise, arguments about the money that has already been invested in him hold no weight. The lost seasons at premium price are a sunk cost, we aren't getting them back and the best course is to turn him into pieces that better fit the future of the Predators.

If the Predators do not trade Weber before next season, will the Predators have any excuse to not re-sign Mattias Ekholm along with Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones?

Jon:

Hell no. With the cap room they have and how important all of those players project to be, not locking Ekholm (or anyone) down would be a failure for the organization.

Dan:

There is no excuse. By signing Ribeiro and Hodgson, Nashville made a 2-year commitment with the guys that are already in the building. Ekholm is a key part of that, as depth on the left side isn't near as plentiful as that on the right.

Bryant:

No. Those players may be expensive but trading any one of them would be crippling for the Predators in the players' respective positions.

George:

No. As Dirk has noted, Ekholm has more upside than even Josi. He's worth keeping around regardless of what the Preds do (or don't do) with Weber.

Sarge:

It wouldn't necessarily be an excuse, but having Weber on the roster hampers the ability to sign those other players. Jones, Ekholm and Forsberg are the future, the young core that the Predators will need to further their success while they are in their prime.

Weber and Rinne's window is soon to be closing (especially with the yeoman's work going to Rinne because the Preds don't have a capable backup...but that's a different article). Hopefully the Preds will have the means to sign all three but that would involve spending to the cap which the Preds are typically reluctant to do, and the bottom six would need to be filled with the AHL'ers like Sissons, Watson, Arvidsson, Fiala, etc... and they would have to be NHL ready. Quite the gamble.

Link:

With a very crowded lineup, I’m not sure Ekholm doesn’t try to take a bridge contract in hopes of getting a trade or forcing a move to free agency in order to get a shot at a move up in the pairings. It would be a mistake to not hold onto Ekholm because he has succeeded despite being asked to change his game to a less offensive role. A versatile defenseman who plays quality minutes most every night and is a complete professional is a wondrous asset. No reason to let that go.

Kris:

Zero. This organization has always pinched its pennies and been more frugal than Chuck Garabedian and his mega-saving seminars, but Forsberg, Jones and Ekholm should all be re-signed and back with the organization.

With millions in cap space along with Gaustad coming off the books next off-season, it would be a crime if any of the three don't get multiple year contracts. Poile's great about nailing the best value in all of the contracts he crafts with young restricted free agents (see: Josi, Ellis, Wilson, Smith). I have no doubt in my mind he'd be able to do the same with Forsberg, Jones and Ekholm.

Nick:

No. If one of the goals of trading Shea Weber is to reduce his cap hit to give younger players a raise, why not trade James Neal and Eric Nystrom? Sure, the return for Neal and Nystrom wouldn't be as big (theoretically) as Weber but together their cap hit totals are slightly less than Weber's, it makes room for younger players with ELCs, and even if those younger players aren't ready, replacing Neal and Nystrom would be easier than replacing Weber.

I think Weber is the most obvious choice because he's getting older and gets paid the most. But if age and dollar amount are the focus points, Rinne costs $7-million a year and is almost three years older than Weber. The problem is those two players are the hardest to replace. But the Predators will not have an excuse for not re-signing any of the upcoming RFAs because they have a few options to make cap room.

Zeke:

No. If Preds ownership has any serious interest in winning they have no choice but to lock up Ekholm along with the rest of their young core, even if it means taking a lesser return from a Weber trade to clear internal cash.

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There you have it. Enjoy the fight in the comments below.