With Suter gone, Preds must work harder to hold on to Weber

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 3:02pm

The Nashville Predators no longer have to wonder or worry about Ryan Suter’s future.

Now they can concern themselves with Shea Weber. And in light of Suter’s decision Wednesday to accept a 13-year, $98 million free agent offer from the Minnesota Wild, concerns over Weber’s long-term future with the franchise suddenly have increased.

“I know if Ryan had re-signed it would be a lot easier for Shea to make a commitment,” general manager David Poile said. “But I have to find that out now. I have already talked to Shea’s representative about a long-term contract.

“Everyone wanted to see what came down with the Suter situation.”

Weber currently is a restricted free agent who is scheduled for unrestricted free agency next July. The two-time Norris Trophy finalist has been the team’s captain for the past two seasons. His is the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer among defensemen and second only to Kimmo Timonen for points by a defenseman.

He rejected long-term offers from the team last offseason and played 2011-12 under an arbitrator-awarded one-year, $7.5 million deal.

“I’ve told Shea on numerous occasions that he’s the captain of our team and we want to build our team around him,” Poile said. “He’s been terrific with us in the captain’s role and as a player and we hope that he will re-sign with us.”

Weber and Suter have been linked since their earliest days as NHL players.

Nashville selected each within the top 50 picks of the 2003 NHL draft, when five of their first seven choices were used to select defensemen. They both broke into the NHL in 2005-06, Suter at the start of the season and Weber after some time in Montreal.

Between them they have played more than 1,000 NHL games, the majority of them as defense partners.

Weber, though, was the headliner. He was selected to the NHL All-Star Game three straight times (2009, 2011 and 2012) whereas Suter finally made his first All-Star Game appearance this past season. Weber also has finished as runner-up for the Norris Trophy each of the last two years. Suter barely cracked the top 10 in 2012.

“I think this is a real missed opportunity,” Poile said. “This could have gone down as the best defensive pair ever in the National Hockey League history. I think they were certainly heading that way.”

Now Suter has decided to go off on his own.

With Minnesota, he joins a team that is younger than Nashville by two years. It has been to the playoff just three times and has missed out on the postseason each of the past four seasons. The Wild did, however, advance to the Western Conference finals in 2002-03.

Obviously, the Predators were not what he wanted.

So now it is up to Nashville’s management to see exactly what Weber is looking for in the long-term and whether or not he envisions himself following Suter out of town eventually.

“Our focus turns to our captain Shea Weber,” Poile said. “He’s the player that we want to build our team around. He’s at the top of his game. He’s a two-time Norris Trophy finalist. He knows what we think of him and we want him to be in Nashville for years to come.

“I’ve talked to Shea as much this year as I have to Ryan about the future.”

He can only hope the final word in this case turns out to be different.

7 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 7/4/12 at 5:02

If this Weber leaves perhaps Thorpe Weber would become available.

By: sharko20 on 7/4/12 at 9:17

Suter is such a coward using his wife as a reason not to resign in Nashville. This was probably the plan since last year or longer given the Parise connection By stringing Poile along it would prevent him from being traded and having to live apart from his wife and young son. Not getting anything in return for Suter is a big loss in assets. He knows it and apparently didn't care.

Weber won't be afforded the same opportunity to play this game with Poile. It's sign or trade.

By: gdiafante on 7/5/12 at 7:03

Sorry but Poile dropped the ball here...Everything Suter did since before the All-Star break pointed to him leaving, yet Poile didn't budge. Ridiculous.

Here's my two-cents: I think the Trotz/Poile era has gone as far as it can go. We can't get over the hump with this system and, apparently, we can't attract or retain the big FA's and have a GM that can't pull the trigger. Something has to change.

On the bright side MN, in the long run, can't afford the contracts they will have to pay out. In April, Liepold was quoted as saying they were broke...sounds like he's pulling a 2006 north of the border. MN fans should be afraid.

By: sharko20 on 7/5/12 at 9:10

I do agree with you to some extent. Suter saying at the all star break he wouldn't sign before the trade deadline was definitely a red flag. Suter told Poile in November he wasn't going anywhere and Poile trusted him. Well, he got burned.

How can MN be broke? I thought they sell out every game.

Weber will get the Jordan Staal treatment, and he should, if he won't sign. Something tells me he will want to test the market. Who could blame him?

If Weber goes too it is very bad PR for the Preds. Nashville drafts well and does a great job with development, but can't retain its homegrown talent.

By: fan13 on 7/5/12 at 9:14

Everything Suter said/did indicated that he was leaving. Poille didn't listen. When a guy says in Feb I'm going to test free agency, my family and I want to be closer to family. He's leaving ! His young family wants to have family support when he's on the road. Seems reasonable to me. A farm kid from upper midwest is going to have his life style changed by a 1-2 mil $$, not by much. It's more about "laid back", close to family, playing with friends and having fun.Preds simply did not listen to him. Hmmm, maybe they should listen to Wewber or perhaps Pens GM Ray Shero.
Weber is sending same messages. He has refused to sign since ugly arbitration last summer, many times.Why should he listen to Preds offers when they say " want to build team around him" then haul him off to almost unheard of team arbitration telling him he's only worth 4.5..he wanted 6 and was awarded 7.5. Poille continues to say the right thing, do the wrong thing and wind up with nothing. That's exactly what he got for Radzulov and Suter..no player, money, draft picks or prospects. ZERO for lost assets.
Listen to your good friend Ray Shero, Mr Poille, trade Weber , you'll never get more than now and when he walks you'll get zero. He's already told you NO many times. Listen UP. He's listening to what you do not what you say. he's traveled that road before.

By: sharko20 on 7/5/12 at 12:35

Even though Radulov signed again in Russia the Preds still own his NHL rights because he was given a qualifying offer. Not that he woud be worth much if he decided to return in 4 years.

By: TNhockeygirl on 7/5/12 at 3:12

hatrick--keep in mind that Nsh had an arbitration offer of 4.5 and weber asked for 8.5... but that was not the contract offer that was made to weber. The contract offer was for 7.5 for multiple years.