With Suter gone, can the Predators sign Shea Weber?

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If signing Shea Weber to a long-term contract was important before, it’s vital now that Ryan Suter has decided to take his talents to St. Paul, Minnesota.

“I’m going to turn my attention to that, and I’ve told to Shea on numerous occasions he’s the captain of our team. I want to build our team around him.” Predators GM David Poile said in a report from Josh Cooper of The Tennessean. “He has been terrific in the captain’s role, as a player. I hope he will re-sign with us.”

Weber has been a bigger part of the Predators’ team than Suter. Weber is their team captain, a two-time Norris Trophy finalist, and over the last three years he has bested Suter in goals, points, hits, and blocked shots.

All the same, losing Suter is a big blow and the question now is if Poile can convince Weber to stay even after failing to re-sign his long-time teammate and fellow all-star defenseman.

It would help if Poile took steps to fill the void left by Suter, but that won’t be an easy task. There’s not a whole lot left on the unrestricted free agent market. They have the trade chips necessary to make a big splash, but it’s not clear if Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester or any appealing defensemen will become available.

For what it’s worth, the Predators do have some promising young blueliners in Jonathon Blum and Ryan Ellis. Losing Suter is something that they might be able to overcome, but they have to convince Weber of that. Otherwise, it might not be long before they’re trying to fill the void left by two all-star defensemen.