Tag:Shea Weber
Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:29 am
Edited on: March 1, 2012 11:39 am
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NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

The top two draft picks are in it. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Welcome to Award Races. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.

We began our Award Races last week by looking at -- in my opinion -- the two most prestigious in the Hart Trophy and the Vezina. One of those races (Vezina) has a clear front-runner then a tight fight for runner-up. The other (Hart) is very tight and will be a battle to the end.

That seems to be what we're talking about this week too, only with the Norris Trophy and Calder. Let's start with the Norris.

At this point, Erik Karlsson seems like a shoe-in for the award. He has taken the points lead and laughed at the rest of the league's defensemen, doing circles around them. He's 23 points ahead of the second highest-scoring defenseman, Brian Campbell. Seriously, he's tied with Henrik Sedin and Joffrey Lupul for sixth in points among all skaters.

Part of the equation that goes into the Norris obviously is how good you are on defense too, it can't be all about offense. But maybe this time it can be, when a guy is just that much more dominant in that regard than the rest of the field. And it's not like Karlsson is completely defenseless. He might not be as good in his own zone as some of the others on this list, but he's responsible enough to garner more than 25 minutes a game in ice time.

So that one is pretty clear. The Calder going to the top rookie? Now this is a race.

At the midpoint of the season it seemed like it was in the bag for last year's No. 1 overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to take the award. Well he's still in the conversation, but he's been joined by others ... and overtaken.

The comments on the second overall pick Gabriel Landeskog's scouting report were promising for instant production. He was seen by most everybody as the most NHL-read prospect in the draft. He has good size already and is a mature player. So his ceiling wasn't believed to be incredibly high, the production was thought to be very good and consistent.

It might have taken him a little while, but now he's showing all of that. Check this out: With the Avalanche making a move to get back into the heart of the playoff race, Landeskog has been great of late. In the last five games he has four goals and four assists while averaging close to 20 minutes a night. Not bad for your first playoff race.

But he has some stiff competition that isn't far behind him at all.

Remember, this is just one man's opinion and there are sure to be disagreements. Feel free to share your thoughts (I know you won't disappoint there).

Award watch
Norris Calder
Erik Karlsson The Ottawa Senators have been the biggest surprise this season and Karlsson has been the biggest surprise for them. In addition to lapping the field in total points, he's also first among defensemen with 15 goals. The offense is just too overwhelming to ignore in his case. Gabriel Landeskog Knowing full well it is not the be-all, end-all of stats in hockey, especially today when advanced metrics are becoming more prevalent, but Landeskog has an impressive plus-22 on the season. That's 13th best in the league. Note: The Avs as a team are minus-5 this season. That has to say something.
Shea Weber Arguably the top all-around defenseman in the game, Weber is a perennial contender for this award, especially as long as he remains in Nashville with Barry Trotz. He's physical and responsible in his own end, explosive and dangerous in the offensive end. There's a reason (lots of them) teams would like to see him in free agency. Adam Henrique He exploded on the scene earlier this season playing with Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise in what became one of the better lines in the entire league. But he has cooled down, scoring just two goals and racking up five assists since Jan. 11. His slip combined with Landeskog's surge puts him here.
Nicklas Lidstrom The 41-year-old has won this award seven times. At age 41, he's going to be hard pressed to win an eighth, but that doesn't mean he isn't having a heck of a season. He's still a huge part of what the Red Wings do and is a quintessential two-way defenseman. It's hard to believe he's his age with how he plays. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Injuries have derailed his hopes here, to be sure. Points-per-game wise, he's the best among rookies with 15 goals and 23 assists in 43 games. But the fact that he played one game in January and then missed a few weeks in the middle of February has hurt his chances. He has come back with two goals and an assist in the last three, though.
Brian Campbell Without Campbell, there's no telling where Florida would be in the standings. He was the big acquisition of the summer by Dale Tallon and he's found his comfort zone after a scrutinizing time in Chicago. He is second among dmen in points and routinely plays close to 30 minutes a game for the Panthers. Matt Read Of all the rookies playing in Philadelphia this season -- and there are a lot -- Read has been the best, and probably the most surprising. The 25-year-old has 16 goals with 19 assists playing multiple roles for the Flyers. He also has only four minor penalties on the season with no majors. That counts for something.
Ryan Suter Still a bit overshadowed by his teammate Weber in Nashville, Suter is obviously no slouch. He'll be the most coveted free agent this summer if the Predators can't re-sign him. Like Weber he's a good two-way player who isn't as threatening in the offensive zone but can score. He has seven goals and 30 assists. Cody Hodgson He could be a dark horse in this race with his recent trade to the Sabres. In Vancouver he wasn't getting a lot of ice time being stuck between Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler but being in Buffalo could give him a shot to flourish. He has a good starting point with 16 goals and 17 assists despite averaging just 12:44 of ice time per game for the Canucks.

And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.

Hart: Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Claude Giroux

Vezina: Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Brian Elliott

Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella

Selke: Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Kesler, Pavel Datsyuk

Top GM: Dale Tallon, Don Maloney, David Poile

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 27, 2012 3:33 pm
 

Paul Gaustad traded to Nashville

SabresPredatorsBy: Adam Gretz

The Nashville Predators made two of the biggest trades on Monday, and after picking up Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal earlier in the day, they also landed center Paul Gaustad and a fourth-round draft pick from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a first-round draft pick.

The first-round pick was the rumored asking price for much of the day, and the Sabres were able to find a team willing to give one up.

Gaustad was one of the most talked about players heading into the deadline, which should have given us an idea as to how quiet Monday would be, and gives the Predators a big body down the middle that can play a number of different roles. The most valuable asset he brings to the team might in fact be his ability in the faceoff circle as he's one of the best players in the league on draw, consistently near the top of the NHL. That fills a pretty big need for the Predators as they are currently one of the worst faceoff teams in the NHL.

It's certainly a high price to pay for Gaustad, an unrestricted free agent after this season, but it's also a clear sign that the Predators are going for it this season. Over the past week they've added Gaustad, Kostitsyn and Hal Gill to go to a team that already has two of the best defensemen in the NHL (Shea Weber and Ryan Suter) and one of the top goalies in the league in Pekka Rinne.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 1:04 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Hart awfully tight, Vezina clear

Last year's winner Corey Perry poses with the Hart Trophy. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Welcome to Award Rankings. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.

The Hart Trophy is the king of trophies, the biggest and best (outside of the Stanley Cup and playoff awards, of course) in the game. It goes to the league's most valuable player.

And here's the thing about it this season: It is going to be one heck of a race to the finish to determine it. The top of the points leaderboards are scrunched. So are the playoff pictures. That means the Hart race is in the same squished mode too.

The difference between a lot of guys right now in the Hart race is like differentiating between a Lamborghini or Ferrari, you really won't go wrong either way. Then you have Mercedes Benzs, Audis and Lexuses in the conversation too. So many great choices, so few winners. Just one, in fact. We aren't Jay Leno here and buying them all.

These rankings are reflective of where they stand now. They are certainly subject to change. For example, Steven Stamkos didn't crack the list here, but if the Lightning actually overcome their five-point hole and grab a playoff spot despite selling seemingly half their team, he'd have to be in consideration without a doubt.

Keep in mind the Hart race is incredibly tight with a ton of contenders at this point. There is an argument to be made for a lot of other players as well as for the order here to be changed. I'm sure you'll make those arguments below. This is just one man's opinion.

The Hart starts with a guy who hasn't won it yet despite some awesome seasons recently. But he was hindered by another spectacularly awesome teammate who hasn't been there much to help this season.

We also look at the Vezina, which isn't anywhere near as tight as the Hart race at the top but the fighting for the finalists is fierce.

Award watch
Hart Vezina
Evgeni Malkin The Penguins have had to deal with more injury loss this season than any other team, including two of their top three centers. The third is Malkin. He leads the league in points and is second in goals. He's been the best player in the league. But this race is very tight and has a long way to go. Henrik Lundqvist The Rangers are arguably the top team in the league and Lundqvist is a massive reason why. He is tops in the league in save percentage at a whopping .940 and has a goals against of 1.78. He's separated himself from the field ... and the Rangers from the East field as well.
Henrik Lundqvist Yes, I think he's been good enough to be seriously in this conversation. He's incredibly valuable to the Rangers, that's not a question for anybody. With scoring down so much in the NHL, this is a perfect year for a goaltender to win the Hart again. Jonathan Quick He means as much to the Kings as Lundqvist does to the Rangers and I'm not going to penalize a goaltender for his offense's lack of production. His 1.96 goals against and .931 save percentage are very good. He's the only reason Los Angeles is still fighting for a playoff berth.
Claude Giroux He was asked to carry a lot more of the load in Philadelphia this season and he has. Despite missing a few games with a concussion, the 24-year-old Giroux is set to pass his career highs very soon with 23 goals and 47 assists already despite playing just 55 games. He's had to with Philly's defense. Jimmy Howard Despite recently missing three weeks in February with a broken finger, Howard is still second in the league in wins with 32 (one behind Pekka Rinne). He is having a career season with a 2.03 goals against average and .924 save percentage and is a big reason why the Wings have returned to the top of the West.
Radim Vrbata Why not? He has 30 goals and counting on the season for the Coyotes, a team that otherwise relies on defense. That's 12 more than anybody else on the team. Aside from Ray Whitney, everybody on the team is at least 16 points behind Vrbata. For a team expected to be in the basement, he deserves a lot of credit. Brian Elliott The only thing keeping Elliott this far down the list is the fact that he splits almost 50/50 in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak. But his 1.65 goals against average and .937 save percentage are obscene. However he'll be hurt by Halak's success as well as the Ken Hitchcock argument ... he makes all goalies look good.
Jason Spezza The assumption before the season was that the Senators were going to be in the running for the best lottery position, not the Northeast Division crown with the Bruins. But here they are and Spezza's 27 goals and 39 assists are a massive reason why. So is Erik Karlsson, but he'll show up elsewhere. Tim Thomas Last year's runaway with the Vezina, Thomas isn't having the season he did a year ago. But in his defense, nobody ever had before him either. He's still excellent with his .929 save percentage and 2.21 goals against. For now he barely beats out Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne in this race for me.

And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.

Norris: Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber, Nicklas Lidstrom.

Calder: Adam Henrique, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Read.

Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella.

Selke: Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews

Top GM: Dale Tallon, Glen Sather, Don Maloney.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 21, 2012 3:02 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 3:09 pm
 

Erik Karlsson's big year leading Senators

KarlssonBy: Adam Gretz

Pucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at offensive production of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson

With less than two months to play in the regular season the Ottawa Senators find themselves in a position that probably not even the most optimistic of their fans expected them to be when the season began back in October.

As of Tuesday afternoon, and following their 6-0 win over the New York Islanders on Monday, the Senators are in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference with a six-point lead over the first non-playoff team. The playoffs look to be a very real possibility --if not likely at this point -- for a team that was projected by most to be one of the worst teams in the league over the summer.

It's a pretty good position to be in, and one of the driving forces behind their success has been the play of third-year defenseman Erik Karlsson, their first-round pick from the 2008 draft.

After a dominant two-goal, four-point performance on Monday afternoon against the Islanders, Karlsson currently sits atop the NHL leaderboard for scoring among defenseman with 57 points. That's 17 points more than the second-leading scorer, Florida's Brian Campbell. To look at it another way, the gap between Karlsson and Campbell from first to second is as big as the gap between Campbell and Florida's Jason Garrison, who is currently 38th in scoring among defenseman (23 points). And that's pretty amazing.

On his current pace of nearly a point-per-game, Karlsson would finish the regular season with 76 points, which is probably about as good as you can expect in the NHL these days from a defenseman. It's going to take him just 13 points over his final 21 games ( or an average .61 points per game, which is well below his current pace of .96 points per game for the season) to reach the 70-point mark, which would make him just the fifth different defenseman to reach that level over the past 14 seasons.

Nicklas Lidstrom did it four times over that stretch. Mike Green did it twice. Sergei Zubov and Brian Leetch each did it once.

His performance this season is starting to attach his name to the Norris Trophy discussion (as Sportsnet's Ian Mendes and Justin Bourne of the Score both argued on Tuesday), which is sure to have it's share of detractors.

Think back to when Green, the Capitals super-skilled and extremely productive defenseman, was a finalist for the Norris in back-to-back years during the '08-09 and '09-10 seasons with offensive seasons that were near mirror images of what Karlsson is currently doing for Ottawa. It was always polarizing because his shortcomings defensively were always pointed out and magnified, along with some variation of the comment, "well, he's basically a fourth-forward when he's on the ice." Or something along those lines.

Keep in mind, though, that the Norris Trophy doesn't (or isn't supposed to) go to the best "defensive defenseman." It's supposed to go to the player that demonstrates "the best all-around ability in the position."

That, of course, includes offensive ability, and that's something that Karlsson clearly has, and at a very young age. And it's not like he's a poor defensive player at this point in his career, either.

Karlsson is already logging a team-high 25 minutes of ice-time per game for the Senators, nearly two full minutes more than the second defenseman, and when he is on the ice the Senators tend to have the upper hand when it comes to possession and keeping the puck in the offensive zone. Among defensemen that have played at least 50 games this season (or players that we would consider for the Norris Trophy) Karlsson currently has the best Relative Corsi rating in the NHL 13.8. Corsi, if you're not familiar with it, is simply the total shot-differential at even-strength (goals, saves, missed shots, blocked shots) when a player is on the ice, which gives a pretty good indication of which players and teams are controlling possession of the puck the most. And that's pretty valuable, because the best way to keep the other team from scoring is to keep them pinned in their own zone, and Karlsson has been as good at that as any other defenseman in the league this year.

Now, Karlsson does have a bit of an advantage over some of the players he's ahead of that are also legitimate Norris candidates, if not favorites, (such as Nashville' Shea Weber and Boston's Zdeno Chara).

The Senators do protect him a bit defensively by not asking him to start many shifts in his own zone (his offensive zone-start percentage is currently over 56 percent). He also isn't asked to kill penalties all that much, and spends a great deal of time on the power play. But even if you look at just his even-strength points (35) he's still crushing the rest of the defensemen in the league in scoring (the No. 2 defenseman in even-strength scoring is Kevin Bieksa, with 25 points).

No matter how you look at it, he's having an incredible season and has clearly been Ottawa's best defenseman, if not its best overall player, and is one of the biggest reasons the team has exceeded almost every expectation.

I don't know if that's enough to get him serious Norris consideration at this point as the names Chara, Weber and Lidstrom still carry enough clout (and are pretty darn good players as well) to make it difficult for him to crack the top-three.

That doesn't mean he isn't deserving.

(Corsi and Zone Start numbers via BehindTheNet.ca)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 20, 2012 4:23 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 4:24 pm
 

Predators extend GM Poile, assistant GM Fenton

PredatorsBy: Adam Gretz

When it comes to getting the most bang for the buck there are few front offices in the NHL better than the Nashville Predators, led by general manager David Poile and his assistant, Paul Fenton.

On Monday, the Predators announced that both men have had their contracts with the club extended, with Poile's deal running through the 2014-15 season.

“Today’s announcement is further recognition by the Predators’ ownership group of the outstanding job David has done as President of Hockey Operations since the franchise’s inception,” said Predators chairman Tom Cigarran in a statement releasead by the team. “The consistent success of the Predators on the ice is directly attributed to his ability to assemble and lead a team of management, coaches, scouts and administrators who continually identify, draft, develop and motive an exceptional group of experienced and young players. The ownership group believes that under his leadership, the Nashville Predators will soon achieve its goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”

Stability has been a pretty big thing in the Nashville organization as Poile is the only general manager the team has had since it entered the league back in 1998. Along with having only one head coach -- Barry Trotz -- there has been a lot of consistency in Nashville over the past decade-and-a-half.

Despite not having the financial resources of some other teams across the league, the Predators have been a playoff team in six of the past seven seasons, and are currently one of the top teams in the NHL this season with 74 points as of Monday, a total that is more than all but four teams.

The Predators have been built primarily through the draft and their lineup is loaded with home-grown players up and down the roster.

Poile might have one of the toughest jobs in the NHL over the next two years as he figures out how to handle his two best players, defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. Suter is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, while Weber will be eligible for that following next season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:22 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 3:08 pm
 

Predators trade for Gill, send Geoffrion to Habs

Gill was a member of the Pens' 2008-09 champion team. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Now the trades are starting to roll in. Took a while.

The Nashville Predators acquired defenseman Hal Gill and a future fifth-round draft pick from the Montreal Canadiens on Friday in exchange for Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney and a second-round pick.

Gill has been one of the few names figured to for sure be on the trading block in what has been a pretty quiet trade season so far. A veteran defenseman on a team that's has sunk out of the race who doesn't have a contract after this season? Of course there would be demand for him.

His addition makes the Predators even tougher to attack. With already the best pair of defensemen in the game with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, Gill brings another strong defensive presence. He comes into a situation that's good for him where he won't be asked to play top pairing minutes. He's only averaged 16:44 per game this season.

“Hal Gill brings our team a number of elements -- size, penalty-killing ability, depth on defense and playoff experience,” Preds GM David Poile said. “He has won a Stanley Cup and played a combined 69 playoff games over the last four years, experience that significantly benefits our team.”

Interstingly, most have been thinking that the Preds needed to upgrade on offense. But realistically, they needed help on the back end as well. The Preds are actually 11th in the league in goals per game with 2.77, equal to the Rangers and Capitals. Defensively they are again 11th in goals against per game, not where you expect a Barry Trotz team to be.

"We felt that we needed to get some veteran experience," Poille said. "I think with Hal Gill we got everything we were looking for."

Some are going to speculate if this means anything for Suter and/or Weber. Stop that. Gill is 36 with no guarantee of being in Nashville next season. If anything, this only helps Nashville's situation with their top defensemen, it shows a commitment to winning and doing it now. They are buyers in an attempt to go for it.

The return package to Montreal isn't too shabby for a 36-year-old rental player. Of particular interest is Geoffrion going to the Canadiens. Of course that's where his legendary grandfather Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion made his Hall of Fame career. Oh, and his great grandfather was Howie Morenz.

NHL Trade Deadline
More NHL coverage

Talk about a legacy and pressure. Geoffrion goes from playing for his hometown team in Nashville to playing for his grandpa's team in Montreal. That's quite a pill to swallow, as he noted via Twitter.

"Wow..what a day...its bitter sweet, going to miss my hometown of nashville, but going to where it all started with my family...MONTREAL!!!"

It seems like a pretty good deal for the Preds to me. You get a good defenseman to help position the Preds for a deeper run this season and they give up a couple of mid-level prospects and a second-round pick. Geoffrion could still develop into a top-six forward, but so far he hasn't been able to show it for the Preds. In the last two seasons he has 22 games in the NHL with six goals and five assists, only three assists in 22 games this season.

The asking price could be pretty big in return. At first brush it looks like a pretty expensive sell and it could prove to be. But the jury is still out on Geoffrion -- granted, he's 23 -- and Slaney while second-round picks very often don't turn to be that big, as Adam Gretz pointed out today.

But if you want to get something you have to give up something.

"The parity that we have in the NHL right now is as close as it's been ... you have to be willing to pay a price to get what you want," Poile said. And he did.

Let's hear your verdict: You like it?

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 17, 2012 11:05 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 11:13 am
 

Don't get too excited about that 2nd round pick

Shea Weber is the exception, not the rule for 2nd round success (Getty Images)
By: Adam Gretz

The most popular piece of currency that gets passed around (or is rumored to be passed around) the NHL this time of year is the second-round draft pick.

On Thursday alone we saw two deals go down involving such a pick when San Jose picked up Dominic Moore from the Lightning, and the Flyers acquired defenseman Nicklas Grossman from the Dallas Stars.

It's pretty much the going rate for a veteran rental that can provide some depth, and if your team is one of the ones that ends up coming out of the trade deadline season with such a pick, it's probably best to keep your expectations within reason. Because there is a pretty good chance that it will turn out to be nothing. Or next to nothing.

Just taking a random 10-year sampling of NHL drafts, there were over 340 players selected during the second-round between 1995 and 2005. Of those players, 122 of them never played a game in the NHL. Or, in other words, over 35 percent. That, of course, doesn't count the players that did appear in the NHL but never established themselves as regulars. There were another 122 players that made an appearance in the league but have played fewer than 100 games.

Add those two groups together and that's roughly 70 percent of the players that were selected in the round over a full decade. Not exactly great odds, especially when you consider that the picks exchanging hands in these situations are more often than not near the middle or back end of the round. Most of the impact players that were chosen during the stretch I selected here (guys like Shea Weber, James Neal, Patrice Bergeron, Derek Roy, just as a few examples) were picked within the first 15 picks of the round.

If you think your team is a contender, the thought of giving up a mid-to-late second-round pick shouldn't be much of a concern or stop you from making the move, which is probably why you see so many of them moved every February.

So why would the team on the other side be so willing to accept it? Well, that's simple. If you have a player like Moore that's set to become a free agent, and you know you're going to lose him in the summer, and you know your team is going nowhere for the remainder of that season, it's better to get an asset that gives you a chance (even if it's as low as 30 percent) of finding a future NHL player than losing an asset for absolutely nothing, which of course gives you a zero percent chance of finding a future player.

Also at Eye On Hockey

Moore traded to Sharks
Grossman traded to Flyers
NHL Trade tracker

Latest NHL rumors and news

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 6:31 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Report: Predators unlikely to trade Ryan Suter

Odds are Suter will stay with the Preds at least through this season. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Drooling over your team's chances of getting their hands on Ryan Suter at the trade deadline? According to Frank Seravali of the Philadelphia Daily News you shouldn't get your hopes up.

There wasn't much actual news that came out of the All-Star weekend in Ottawa, but that doesn't mean there was none. Suter, the Nashville Predators star defensemen who is in line to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, caused a little bit of a ripple on media day when he said that he didn't want to sign an extension with the Preds before the trade deadline on Feb. 27.

The rationale, which didn't make much sense to me, is that he doesn't want it to be a distraction. I would think signing a new deal -- if that's indeed what he wants to do -- would eliminate the distractions, saying you won't sign before the deadline doesn't do much to quiet things down. Instead, people everywhere start clicking on Cap Geek's trade calculator to figure out how they can make it work.

But it might be a moot point. Sources told Servali that don't expect Preds GM David Poile to move Suter.

“The consensus among us is that Nashville will be hanging onto him, even if they know the odds are not in their favor of re-signing him,” one Eastern Conference GM told the Daily News on condition of anonymity. “If he does decide to trade him, [David] Poile has the market cornered. There are very few defensemen of Suter’s caliber in the league and Nashville has two of them.

“You have to wonder whether the Predators can continue to trade away their top players for prospects because they can’t afford to pay them.”

I've been on the limb all season long that I believe the Predators will re-sign all three free agents (Pekka Rinne already taken care of, Shea Weber will be a restricted free agent again) and I think Poile is still believing the same thing.

To answer one of the obvious questions here; why is this coming from Philadelphia? Well the Flyers have been one of the names mentioned with Suter for some time, particularly since Chris Pronger was shut down.

Adding to that intrigue, Suter was paired with Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen in the All-Star Game and of course Timonen took the chance to talk to Suter a little bit about Philly.

“He’s going to take his time and see what’s going to happen,” Timonen said. “If he gets the money he wants, obviously he will stay there. You don’t know what’s going to happen, how much they’re going to spend, if they want to keep both of those two guys. He’s been there so long, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t want to stay there.”

The Predators don't historically spend a lot of money, that's why people don't think they'll keep all three. But the reverse side of that is it means they have a lot of money under the cap to spend. With the franchise at the highest level it has ever been at the moment, this is the time to spend the money.

The risk in it all obviously is seeing Suter walk for free. If he goes all the way to the free-agent period without a deal, he will get big-time bucks thrown his way as one of the biggest free agents in years.

That's why it's hard to envy Poile right now. His two star defensemen he needs to sign, Suter and Weber, need to see a team committed to winning. But what better way to do that than re-sign their two best players? It's a catch-22, so the best he can do at this point is take a chance on the team winning this season, and with how the Preds are playing, you like the odds they can make some noise.

The Nashville fans have already seen the team lose one stellar defenseman for nothing in return when Dan Hamhuis left a few seasons ago. Obviously they don't want to see that happen again. I don't think Poile wants it to happen again either, this would clearly signal he thinks they can sign Suter.

More from Eye on Hockey

Suter doesn't plan to sign before trade deadline
Trade Deadline coverage

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com