Weber Watch Is Wrapped Up, Looking Ahead
This week the Nashville Predators put to bed one of the biggest single player decisions ever when they matched an offer sheet Shea Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, which means the offer – as-signed – becomes his contract with the Predators for the next 14 years.
For now, it means Nashville retains its captain and defensive cornerstone. Coupled with Pekka Rinne the two form a duo that would evoke envy in almost any other league GM. Looking at where we’re heading and not so much where we’ve been, I still feel pretty good about the team’s direction.
Up front Nashville has retained Colin Wilson, Sergei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad. On the blue line Jonathon Blum will now get another go at earning back the spot he lost last season, while players like Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and even Mattias Ekholm vie for playing time in Nashville alongside Weber, Kevin Klein, and Hal Gill.
I think retaining Gill and Gaustad was telling. Both players played less than half a year here yet saw enough to make them believe there is a great nucleus already in place. Both players were likely courted by other organizations but elected to stay, and that says to me they see a winning culture, a team with a lot of the pieces in place, and a real chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.
With all the focus that’s been on the Weber and Suter situations, I feel that it might be important to point out what the Predators still have and were never in danger of losing. Players like Martin Erat, Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist. Emerging talents like Nick Spaling, Matt Halischuk and Gabriel Bourque. This is a team that showed it had the tools to compete before Andrei Kostitsyn or Alex Radulov entered the picture. And when your netminder is a perennial Vezina candidate you have a great base to start from.
I’m not saying the Preds won’t bring in anyone between now and the start of training camp. David Poile isn’t going on vacation for the rest of the summer after wiping the sweat from his brow on this one. There’s always a chance a deal comes into being that makes the Predators better and if it does, the trigger will be pulled. Plus there’s always the “Shane Doan factor” floating out there. Will he or won’t he stay with the Coyotes? Who knows at this point, but I think he’d look pretty good sporting Predators Gold come September.
It’s going to be a little while until the Preds get back on the ice, but after the way last year’s iteration came along (and some would say much quicker than predicted) it will be very interesting to see how this year’s team gets out of the gates. Until then we can look forward to the team’s open house on August 4 and sit content knowing our captain is back!