Reacting to Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish’s comment that he would like to love to acquire a “stud defenseman,” Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal drew the conclusion that the targeted blueliner is Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.
Of course it’s Weber. Nashville’s captain is arguably the best defenseman in the world, what GM worth his salt wouldn’t want him on their team?
Here’s the thing though, David Poile, MacTavish’s counterpart in Nashville, is not going to trade Weber.
Well he can, but really, he can’t.
Weber is the face of the Predators, not just in Nashville, but around the hockey world. You can’t trade away your identity, especially when he is the best player at his position. At the Olympics, at the All-Star Game, in the Skills Competition, he is not just Shea Weber, he is Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.
In those skills competitions, Weber has been, and will continue to be, a mainstay as one of the hardest shots in the game in the event’s premier showcase.
Weber sells tickets. He sells merchandise. Next time you are at Bridgestone Arena, count how many Weber jerseys and shirts you see walking around the concourses.
A big part of the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers two summers ago was loaded with upfront money in the form of a signing bonus.
To date, Nashville has already paid Weber $26 million of the $68 million in bonuses. Yes there is still a lot of money left on the contract, but watch how quickly ticket sales, and most importantly season ticket sales, dry up should Weber be traded away. No player or players they get in return from Edmonton could prevent the ticket-buying exodus that would accompany a Weber trade.
In his piece, Matheson points out how bad the Predators are on offense, and that is true. But what he fails to recognize is the fact that as bad as the Predators are up front, the Oilers are equally bad, and probably even worse on defense and in goal, Pekka Rinne’s hip situation aside.
Entering Friday, even with all of those talented forwards, Edmonton has scored just ten more goals than Nashville has on the young season. They have allowed 21 more goals against than the Predators, and that’s with Edmonton playing two more games.
Matheson notes that the Predators have Seth Jones and Roman Josi on the roster, as if this would cushion the blow of subtracting Weber. Yes, they are both very talented defensemen, but you know what makes them really good? That’s correct, playing with Weber on the other side when they are paired together.
Give the Edmonton Journal a little credit though, at least they didn’t mention how great it would be to trade for Weber and repatriate him to his native Canada. Those types of articles usually accompany Weber when he plays games in Vancouver, and mention how great it would be for him to play for the Canucks, the team located in his home province of British Columbia.
Those pieces are usually tinged with mentions of how much Weber must hate it in Nashville since he signed that offer sheet with the Flyers. Here’s the thing though, the only thing his signing of that offer sheet proved was that he wanted to get paid more than he didn’t want to be a Predator.
And every single player in the NHL would have signed that offer sheet had it been extended to them.
With the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire last September 15th, someone came to Weber offering him ridiculous money for the rest of his professional playing career; money that he would likely not be able to get once a new CBA was put in place.
If Weber wanted out of Nashville so badly, he could have taken the Predators to arbitration, signed a one-year deal, and then been free to sign with any team of his choosing for this season, heck even Edmonton.
There may be a day when Poile, or his successor - Poile will be 76 when Weber’s contract expires, decides that it is time to move Weber. That time is not now however.
Not when Weber is 28.
Not when he is the game’s best defenseman.
And not when Poile couldn’t possibly get equal value in return.