Can the Nashville Predators Win Without Shea Weber?

That’s the question floating around for the last three games after Shea Weber suffered an undisclosed lower-body injury. Players are always dinged up this time of year, and he may be back soon. However, renewed interest from an old suitor brings up a huge issue on whether the team can win without him.

Effects of the Weber Injury

Nashville Predators General Manager Dave Poile told The Tennessean that Weber (along with injured forward James Neal) would be ready for the playoffs. The duo could return as early as Saturday’s game versus the Dallas Stars.

Preds general manager David Poile said Tuesday he hopes that forward James Neal (upper body) and defenseman Shea Weber (lower body) both have a chance to play as early as Saturday against Dallas, and that both “absolutely” should be ready for the playoffs.

The return of Weber and Neal is reassuring, but what happens if he is re-injured? While that may be a devastating prospect, it may be something the team has to think about. Can Nashville actually win games without him?

RELATED: Predators Prevail Against Adversity, Clinch Playoff Spot

Nashville did overcome the loss of Weber and clinched a playoff spot defeating former coach Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals. However, the Preds have suffered back-to-back losses to the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks.

The Preds did score two power-play goals, but didn’t convert on a five-minute power play after Alexandre Burrows was ejected. There’s no doubt that the Predators would’ve loved to have Weber’s cannon of a slap shot to keep the Canucks honest.

(John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Shea Weber- John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Weber also plays against the top forward lines, and they have given up four goals a game in the three games that he’s been missing. It was against solid offenses like Washington, Calgary and Vancouver, but this is the level of competition that will be in the postseason.

RELATED: Shea Weber, the New Norris Trophy Frontrunner

Flyers Courting Weber Again

The Philadelphia Flyers tried courting Shea Weber in the summer of 2012 and signed him to an offer sheet. However, Nashville quickly matched the gaudy 14-year, $110-million contract.

It seems that the Flyers could once again be making a play for the hard-shooting blueliner. The Edmonton Journal speculated about this.

The Preds could easily get centre Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier in a Weber deal, a winger such as Matt Read, who is much better than his current scoring drought, a first-rounder, and most importantly Philly has depth in high-end defence prospects (Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and Shayne Gostisbehere) to move.

Trading Shea Weber could open up plenty of salary cap space for the club to pursue a forward that could bolster their inconsistent scoring. Weber is owed $40 million over the next three years, and the Predators do boast one of the better defense groups. This could be the chance to give Seth Jones a more prominent role as a top defenseman.

(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
(Could Seth Jones get a bigger role if the Predators move Shea Weber? – Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

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The Verdict

The chance to move Shea Weber for multiple parts is always tempting, but the deal would have to knock the management’s socks off before moving him. Weber is the face of the franchise and does so many things for this team.

Weber has been through the playoff wars and is an annual Norris Trophy candidate. I think Dave Poile will think long and hard before pulling the trigger on such a blockbuster deal.

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Dan Mount is a Nashville Predators staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanMountSports.