So…what do the Predators do now?

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They tried hard to keep Ryan Suter, but the Nashville Predators are watching him walk away to Minnesota instead. With a gaping hole on the blue line to fill next to Shea Weber, the Predators are at a crossroads for their franchise.

Just back in February they went all-in trying to prove to Suter and Weber that they could win and win now. They locked up goalie Pekka Rinne to a seven-year deal to keep at least one franchise player in town.

Now? Trepidation.

They could always go after free agent Matt Carle. The problem they face there is dealing with the same teams that they were up against in keeping Suter. Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia will all be hot after Carle and with money to burn to do it.

Should the Predators fall short with Carle, there’s another option that fans won’t like hearing: trade Shea Weber.

Weber would command a huge return on the trade market, and trying to deal him at the deadline, should things get to that point, is dangerous. With Weber not having an extended contract, teams would be nervous to give up a lot for a guy who could just leave on July 1. Summer trades also allow teams the freedom to shuffle pieces around without the time constraints of the deadline.

If GM David Poile gets the feeling Weber isn’t wanting to stick around, moving him out as soon as possible could be in his best interest.

One thing is for sure, the Predators cannot risk losing Weber for nothing they way they did with Suter. Poile refused to trade his rights believing he could re-sign Suter. Now that he’s gone without so much as a replacement, that’s a mistake that cannot be repeated.

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