Cue the Shea Weber-to-Edmonton speculation

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Edmonton general manager Craig MacTavish said yesterday that it “would help immensely” if the Oilers could acquire a “big stud defenseman.”

This, not surprisingly, has led to all sorts of speculation. Who could MacTavish target?

Well, longtime Oilers beat writer Jim Matheson has an idea: Nashville captain Shea Weber, who Matheson calls “one of the three or four best defensemen in the game.”

Aim high, right?

From the Edmonton Journal:

So if you’re Craig MacTavish, who’s untouchable?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Taylor Hall? Jordan Eberle? Justin Schultz? Nail Yakupov?

So we know MacTavish would give up his 2014 first-round pick, for a stud D-man. What else?

I’d say MacTavish would really need his arm cranked to move Hall or RNH. You’d be loathe to deal your No.1 centre or your emotional leader in Hall. And you outbid everybody in the NHL to sign Justin Schultz out of U of Wisconsin so you’d have to swallow hard to consider giving him up. Yakupov is not untouchable. I’d say, the Predators would jump through hoops to get Eberle and Schultz (the scorer on the wing and the puck-moving D-man). But, they’d still be missing a centre? They wouldn’t mind Sam Gagner. I’m sure the Predators have scouted tough defenceman Darnell Nurse and Swedish blueliner Oscar Klefbom, too, for prospects.

Granted, we still don’t know if Preds general manager David Poile is even willing to entertain offers for Weber. But here are a few reasons the Oilers might be able to tempt him:

— The Preds have a budget, and right now a lot of it is being used up by Weber, whose heavily front-loaded contract looks like this (per CapGeek):

source:

That’s a big nut for a team like Nashville, which, according to Forbes’ estimates, ranks near the bottom of the league in revenue.

— The Preds have Seth Jones now. No, he’s not an elite NHL defenseman yet. But the Preds aren’t an elite team either. It’s not like they’ll be making a run for the Stanley Cup this spring. In the Western Conference, they’re a long shot to even make the playoffs.

— The Preds need young, talented forwards. Badly. And the Oilers have plenty of those. Poile may not be interested in Yakupov (see: that whole experience with Alexander Radulov), but if MacTavish put Hall on the table?

And make no mistake, MacTavish would have to at least consider putting Hall on the table. This is Shea Weber we’re talking about. A guy that could — well, let’s use MacTavish’s words here — really “move the team forward in a rapid fashion.”