Preds’ early exit has Vancouver fans dreaming about Weber

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Unlike teammate Ryan Suter, Shea Weber can’t simply walk away from the Nashville Predators this summer. The former’s set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1; the latter merely restricted.

Weber can, however, become unrestricted on July 1, 2013, a fact that’s had teams drooling for a while now.

Take the Vancouver Canucks, a franchise that’s been around since 1970 and never – not once – boasted a defenseman that’s been nominated for the Norris Trophy.

Not coincidentally, many will argue, the Canucks have never won the Stanley Cup.

Also not coincidentally, the three times they’ve been to the finals, the teams that beat them featured Norris winners Denis Potvin (Islanders), Brian Leetch (Rangers) and Zdeno Chara (Bruins).

(Fun fact: the last Norris winner that retired without a championship ring was Doug Wilson.)

This morning, one Vancouver newspaper is wondering if the Canucks could land Weber, who also happens to be a British Columbia native.

From The Province:

If the discussion about whether Mattias Ohlund should be in the Ring of Honour underscored anything, it’s just how deprived the Canucks have been of great defencemen. It’s hard to believe, after 40 years, the question of “who is the Canucks’ best blueliner of all time?” is boiled down to Jyrki Lumme vs. Ohlund.

What, no love for Doug Lidster?

Yesterday, Weber said he’ll have to digest the disappointment of losing to the Coyotes before he thinks about the future.

But if Suter signs elsewhere this summer, like many believe he will, it could make it even tougher for Nashville to lock up Weber, who’ll get a massive contract regardless of where he decides to play. The question he’ll have is, can I win here?

Related: Suter: “Wherever I sign, I want to be there for the rest of my career”