Why Shea Weber to Vancouver makes a lot of sense (and no sense whatsoever)

While British Columbia is a hotbed for silly homegrown-star-wants-to-come-home pipe dreams — the foremost of these being the annual “Joe Sakic to finish his career in Vancouver” rumours of yore — it should be noted that sometimes these dreams do come true.

In 2006, fans coveted unrestricted free agent Willie Mitchell of Port McNeill, and he took a little less to play here. Then, when he left town in 2010, the Canucks replaced him in free agency with the equally coveted Dan Hamhuis of Smithers, who also took less.

In short, there’s precedent for the “Shea Weber to Vancouver” murmurs. But there isn’t much reason to them.

Granted, these are awesome murmurs. Weber would be a perfect fit for the Canucks. (Sure, he’d be a near-perfect fit on every team, what of his size, toughness, and Norris-level all-situation skillset, but he’d be perfectly perfect in Vancouver.)

Good as the Canucks’ powerplay has been this year, it hasn’t been quite as slick since Christian Ehrhoff left, and none of the guys Newell Brown has used to replace Ehrhoff — Mikael Samuelsson, Sami Salo, Alex Burrows — have fully cemented themselves as the right guy. Weber, on the other hand, would make the best powerplay in the league better.

The penalty kill, too, would benefit from Weber’s presence. When Andrew Alberts is out of the lineup, the Canucks have trouble clearing the crease. Weber could do the job without being the even-strength liability Alberts can be.

And, speaking of even-strength, Weber would likely be paired with Alex Edler 5-on-5, a glorious thought. Edler is a left-handed left defenceman best complemented by a right-handed right defenceman like Weber. While the Swedish blueliner saw some success with the left-handed Ehrhoff, who ably transitioned to the right side, guys capable of making that shift are rare. (Keith Ballard’s been unable to do it, for instance.)

Sami Salo, a natural right-sider, has been the only successful candidate this season, but it’s scary when Salo is your only option. When he’s hurt, as he presently (and often) is, Edler is destitute. Weber solves that problem, plus he makes the pairing more defensively sound than any tandem with Alex Edler has ever been.

Weber’s ideal fit is, of course, one reason why the pipe dream has persisted for so long. But, while the dream is so sexy I have to turn my Family Filter off to have it, the chances that it becomes a reality are unbelievably slim.

"Take me with you, Roberto."

Let’s ignore the cap implications. You have to know by now that, if cap space was the only problem, Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman would figure it out. But it’s far more than that.

First, while David Poile may have to move one of his two stud defenseman, it likely won’t be Weber. While there are some that say Ryan Suter’s the real star of the Nashville blueline and the one Poile should work to hold onto, that’s hardly the case in the Nashville market, where Weber’s the big scorer, the Norris nominee, the one with the booming slapshot, the captain, and the face of the franchise. You have to imagine that the last thing Poile wants to do on the heels of the Predators’ first-ever trip to the second round of the playoffs is alienate the fanbase by trading away the marquee guy.

Additionally, Weber’s an RFA this year, not a UFA, so the need to get him locked up prior to July 1 isn’t quite as pressing. Suter, on the other hand, can go where he pleases. If the Predators traded Weber, they could wind up losing both guys if they fail to get Suter signed by the summer.

More than likely then, Suter’s the one on the way out, and, while he’s almost as desirable to many teams, he’s less desirable to Vancouver. As a left defenceman, there’s no guarantee that he’d be able to play with Edler, and the last thing the Canucks need is to give up assets aplenty for another well-compensated, left D-man that doesn’t seem to fit in their top four. Granted, Suter’s a much better player than Ballard, but it’s still a big risk.

And even if Poile opts to move Weber, not Suter, Vancouver is an unlikely destination. The two teams are in the same conference (and, thanks to the NHLPA, they will be next year as well). By all accounts, Weber has a genuine desire to play in Vancouver, but Poile is under no obligation to send him here, and the Nashville GM has to know that a Weber/Edler pairing is formidable. The last thing he’s going to do is help the Canucks put it together, especially when Nashville’s road to the Stanley Cup Final is going to be through Vancouver for the foreseeable future.

In short, not only would the Canucks have to pay a pretty penny to outbid other teams if Weber became available — they’d have to overbid even more to overpower Poile’s good sense about trading to a rival. That in mind, I simply don’t think Poile is going to be sold on a package of Mason Raymond, Keith Ballard, and a pick.

Meanwhile, the rumours that Suter could be headed to the Philadelphia Flyers make a lot more sense. The Flyers have lost left defenceman and captain Chris Pronger for the year, GM Paul Holmgren has already shown a willingness to trade just about anybody to get what he wants, the team has some expendable assets the Predators might want, and the two franchises have worked together on a number of blockbuster deals in the past.

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27 comments

  1. akidd
    January 17, 2012

    talk about wet blankets. okay then, because weber is one helluva shiny bauble, how about kidpnapping and plastic surgery? gotta pull out all the stops.

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  2. Canuckles
    January 17, 2012

    Damn you and your cold, hard, logic Mr. Mooney

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  3. CraptacularWill
    January 17, 2012

    As much as Weber would make our team into a Juggernaught in the West, the price we would have to pay would be enormous. When we went after Hamhuis at the trade deadline 2 years ago, Poile wanted Hodgeson and a First, (as well as some other players I can’t remember). The price on Weber would be far and above that. I can see Poile wanting Hodgeson, a First, and one of our core members (Kesler, Burrows). Unless MG can pull some magic trading skills we can forget about Weber in the Blue and Green.

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    • By-Tor
      January 19, 2012

      We could always get Poile fired somehow then replace him with a mole GM who’s secretly loyal to us.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        January 19, 2012

        Worked in Florida.

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  4. sgolesor
    January 17, 2012

    The other issue I see is, who would we send back? It’s no secret Nashville needs more offensive power (and losing Weber would only make that worse). Our most valuable trade-bait is obviously Schneider, but with Pekka Rinne locked away until 2018, Nashville should have absolutely no interest in C-Wall.

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  5. F4S Leigh
    January 17, 2012

    Harrison, normally your thoughts are well reasoned and thought through, but I think you missed the mark here.

    First – you can’t “ignore” salary cap implications when considering a player of Weber’s stature. In order to fit him under the cap, we would almost assuredly have to move a significant chunk out, perhaps not now, but come a couple years’ time. Second, you have to ask yourself what type of package would get Weber here.

    Let’s start with the second point. I’m going to go out on a limb and make the assumption that for a Norris-calibre defenseman, Poile’s going to want a very good, younger player back. In my mind, that points to either Kesler or Edler, in addition to some spare parts (say a Raymond). Since moving Kesler would decimate the top 6 as it’s currently constructed, you’d have to think that Edler would be the name that Poile would want. They have no need for Schneider, they are set in the pipes (Rinne) – and I don’t think any of our other assets are significantly attractive enough to be the centrepiece of a Shea Weber trade.

    Next consider the first point on the cap. Edler’s due a big raise on his next contract, so from a cap perspective, GMMG is going to have to figure that out anyway – and hence, you may be able to squeeze Weber in, but only if Edler’s not around.

    So that’s where I see this going. If it were a PURE hockey trade, I think most people would do Edler for Weber straight up – it’s an upgrade. This isn’t knocking Edler, but Weber is a Norris guy – so far, Edler isn’t. And I think that the ask by Poile would be for that type of player.

    At the end of the day, does this make the Canucks better? It certainly would make them more physical at the back, provide more offense (put Weber on our PP and his stats would skyrocket), and probably more consistent (we all know Edler has a tendency to “disappear” from time to time). Does it put us over the top? Not sure.

    If somehow they can keep an Edler – then GMMG is a total magician and deserves worship. I just don’t think it could be done. But your view ignores cap and “who’s in the deal” implications, all the while assuming Weber plays with Edler. A much different animal indeed.

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  6. ArtemChubarov
    January 17, 2012

    I want Jason Garrison!

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  7. akidd
    January 17, 2012

    “does it put us over the top?”

    yes. yes it does.

    the collective groan that would be emitted by the hawks, wings and bruins if weber were traded to the canucks would have to be measured on the richter scale.

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    • F4S Leigh
      January 17, 2012

      @akidd – I actually agree, I’d do the deal in a heartbeat. The only wildcard is whether or not Edler would be willing to accept a home town discount, but something tells me he won’t (don’t know why). I suspect, however, that most of Canucks Nation wouldn’t make this deal, principally because of “he’s a Canuck therefore he’s the best” syndrome…

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      • akidd
        January 17, 2012

        if weber isn’t the best dman in the legue that’s because keith is

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  8. Brentals
    January 17, 2012

    I like your points on a Philly trade for Suter, especially if Nashville wants to try to make the true rental deal to Philly. Trade them Suter for the rest of the season for some forward scoring prospects then get him back as a UFA, or even get JVR straight up?

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  9. SteveB
    January 17, 2012

    Shea Weber wears #6, we already have a #6 – Sami Salo!
    / jersey # controversy

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  10. akidd
    January 17, 2012

    am getting timed out here for no good reason. would the site manager please report to the principal’s office.

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    • SteveB
      January 18, 2012

      “We are sorry, the page you are looking for does not exist

      404 INTERNAL SERVER ERROR

      You might try to use our Site Search or Back to Home Page.”

      hrrrmmm

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  11. I'mjustsuggesting
    January 17, 2012

    Ya, this is a really interesting story. Lots of speculation that Suter will want to play in Chicago, a la his uncle. If Nashville can’t hold on to Suter, I think Weber is gone come free agency.

    Since Webers team took him to arbitration last season, does that mean he will have to file for arbitration this year if no deal is signed?

    Also, Hamhuis and his wife both have families still located in BC, it was a big factor in him signing in Van. Hamhuis has 2 kids that are getting older now, family is important.
    Does Weber still have family here?

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  12. Vokail
    January 17, 2012

    Personally I think GMMG takes a pass on Weber because of cap issues and the amount of players needed to go the other way. I personally see Schneider going in the off season to New Jersey for their new #1 swede (ADAM LARSSON) that happens to be a right and plays 18 – 20+ minutes a night to anchor beside Edler. He looks like a winner dman for the now and future. He can be sheltered in a way for his growth as the second pairing. Cap wise he’s a close exchange for Schneider without tearing apart the core. It looks like Eddie Lack can hold the backup reins for next year. To me this is a total win for both clubs with Brodeur trading off with Schneider going forward as he gracefully steps back into the supporting role.

    Perhaps the Devils want a Dman back and I could see Rome, Alberts or if they can soak the cap Ballard to help replace the top D guy they lose. But given that it’s off season the devils could replace Larsson with an F/A

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    • Nee
      January 17, 2012

      I don’t see this happening, but I would love to get Larsson.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 17, 2012

      There’s not a chance in the world that New Jersey is going to trade Larsson. Not a chance.

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  13. iLovePITB
    January 17, 2012

    You just made me want Weber even more. :(

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  14. Prophet
    January 17, 2012

    IMHO, I would say that a Weber for Kesler trade (plus other side pieces to balance it out)makes a lot of sense and far more sense than Weber for Edler. Here’s my reasoning.

    We’re probably not going to get a star player of Weber’s calibre without giving up a star player or mortgaging the next 3-5 years of young talent. A Weber for Kesler trade makes sense because each player will add NET respective value to both teams both now and in the future.

    Harrison has pretty much nailed the reasons why Weber will make Vancouver that much more dangerous. We would hands down have the best top 4 DMen in the league, bar none. Our power play will be even absolutely lethal, which will give pause to teams trying to “broon” our top guys. Weber also adds size and toughness which the Canucks desperately need.

    Trade the reigning Selke winner will obviously open up a huge void. However, I feel that Kesler true value isn’t fully utilized in Vancouver and I actually think playing in Nashville would actually allow him to fully reach his potential. I think that his style of play would make him a better fit in Nashville, who plays a tight checking, defence first game. But here’s the real reason…

    Kesler is a very intense player with an ego to match. He’s got a chip on his shoulder and likes to be the go-to guy. In Vancouver, he will always be the third best forward, unless he’s actually playing against Nashville in a playoff series, which is another reason why they would be interested in having him in a Predator uniform.

    In Nashville, Kesler would be the top forward on the first line and the entire Nashville offense would be centred around him. He’d probably be the captain and lead by example. He could also stop pretending to like Canadians (with reference to the last Olympics). I think he would be happy in an American market where he is the biggest star. Given how there appears to be a rift forming between him and AV, we should probably trade him before his stock plummets.

    Kesler’s offensive contribution to the Canucks can mostly be replaced by a cheaper, tougher than average 50-60 point man for the second line before the trade deadline. His role on the powerplay is not that hard to replace. Playing Burrows on the PP with Sedins when Kes was hurt yielded similar results. Put Burrows or Booth in front of the opposing goalie. His defensive contribution may not be as easy to replace, but would be absorbed by a complete stud defence, so there would be less backchecking anyway.

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    • F4S Leigh
      January 18, 2012

      @Prophet – your reasoning is actually sound. I have been operating on the assumption that Kesler’s somewhat of an “untouchable”, but for many reasons that you’ve outlined, maybe he’s not. I personally don’t much like his sulking and general broodi-ness, and I honestly wonder whether or not he likes playing in a market like this. What your hypothesis centres around, really, is whether or not Hodgson is good enough to carry the load as the #2 line centre. Certainly offensively, it appears as though he may be. But his foot speed is below average and right now, I don’t think he could be thrust into this role without us losing a lot up front. I could see this deal (Weber/Kesler) making sense for both sides maybe next year , but I don’t see it happening now – Hodgson is just too green.

      On the point of wanting to play in a market like this – I’m not convinced that Weber does either. I think a lot of players prefer the anonymity that comes with playing in a US market. Clearly, GMMG would have to figure this out prior to making any sort of deal.

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  15. unplugged_boy
    January 18, 2012

    by some odd miracle or black voodoo magic we do happen to get weber. i think we can assume it would be the end of luongos tenure here..

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  16. markA
    January 18, 2012

    Sakic wants to finish his career in Vancouver? Awesome! How good would that make us?

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  17. tom selleck's moustache
    January 18, 2012

    Guys, relax; it’s real easy. What’s going to happen is the Canucks are going to win the cup this year. Next year, when Weber goes UFA, he’s going to shun all offers and take a home town discount to sign with the Canucks at 4.7 per. Meanwhile, the cap will have already have risen by $10-15 mill, allowing us to keep Edler, Schneider, Burr and anybody else I’ve forgotten, then allowing us to go on to win the next 4 of 5, creating the NHL’s first dynasty since the Oilers. Simple.

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  18. Innovation
    January 18, 2012

    IMHO, one shouldn’t rule out the idea of a 3 team trade. What if Ballard, Raymond, and Schneider went to Tampa, some offensively gifted players from Tampa Bay went to Nashville and Weber went to Vancouver? You can sprinkle some picks in there amongst the teams too.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 18, 2012

      I’ve thought about this. Three-team trades are obscenely rare these days but for sure, a trade that sends Schneider elsewhere for a top-six forward prospect, then flips that forward in a package for Weber would be pretty sweet. And, like I said, if the price is right, Schneider will get moved.

      But like I also said, it’s *extremely* unlikely.

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