Whether or not the Nashville Predators end up trading Shea Weber is something we’ll have to wait until July to see, but you can bet that there will be plenty of rumors swirling around the star d-man and the 13 years remaining on his contract. If the Preds do end up dealing him, though, do they have a plan in place?
The Predators lost Ryan Suter to free agency last summer. If they trade Weber, they’ll have rid themselves of two no. 1 d-man in barely one calendar year. Obviously there’s an argument there in favor of keeping Weber, but if they do end up trying to improve the quality of their club overall, do they have someone on the roster who can step up into his role as a no. 1 defenseman?
As disappointing a season as it was for the Predators overall, they did have one player establish himself as a top pairing defenseman. Roman Josi was able to take on an increased role and thrive next to Shea Weber. He finished the season with 18 points from the blue line, a total which ranked sixth on the team.
More importantly, Josi proved capable of logging heavy minutes. He averaged over 23:30 of time on ice per game, three minutes more than anyone else not named Shea Weber. He was valuable on the power play, playing almost three minutes with the man advantage, but did not see as much time while on the penalty kill.
Next year should see more of the same for him. H’e emerged as a key piece of this team, though there’s the matter of him being a restricted free agent and needing a new contract. The question is whether or not he’d be able to step into a no. 1 defenseman role in the event that Weber ends up traded.
If there’s a knock on Josi, it’s that he needs to add some more meat to his 6’2″ frame, something that can easily be taken care of. If he does that, the Predators have the total package on their top pairing. Whether or not the Preds see him a guy capable of taking over Weber’s minutes in the event of a trade remains to be seen.