Weber or Suter?
This is a question the Nashville Predators will have to face soon as both are coming up to the end of their current contracts with the team. Weber who is due to become an RFA at the end of this season and Suter who is a UFA at the end of next season.
Now you may be wondering why I would start asking this question now when Suter isn’t gone for another year, well there is a simple answer to that and it is that I don’t believe the Predators can afford to keep both of them together unless one or both take a pay cut to stay on the team. The two together could be argued as one of the top pairings in the NHL currently but what we have to look at here is which would do better without the other.
Let’s start first with what the captain brings to the table. Well to start it off he obviously has leadership qualities as he was named captain of the team for a reason. For the sake of the argument though I’m not going to focus on that as I can’t say how both are in the locker room or with the team as I’m not there to see it. With Shea Weber you get that big defenseman who can shoot the puck. And when I say shoot the puck I really mean shoot it. He is one of the few defensemen in the league that can continuously put up goals from the point. As well for his size he is not completely immobile, we have seen him skate up the ice and join the rush and even lead the rush and still make it back in time to get in good position in the defensive zone. While that all sounds great, which it is, questions are starting to be asked because earlier in the season Suter went down with an injury and during that time Weber didn’t perform up to his standards. In the 12 games including the one he was injured in, Weber was a -11 and only had 4 points in those games. Looking beyond the numbers though, for most of that time he was paired with Bouillon who played well but isn’t the type of player you would want to see with Weber. At times he was also paired with Klein but that didn’t seem to catch on. For those of us watching it seemed as though Weber at some point did get a hang of it as he got 3 points in 4 games but then fell off again. He tried to do everything, being both the set-up man and shot by himself which doesn’t work.
With the All-Star game just around the corner, many Preds fans argued that Suter should be the one to represent the team not Weber. While we have yet to see how Suter would do without Weber, but we can clearly see what Suter brings to the table. He may not get the same recognition as his teammate but he should. He is a smooth skating defenseman who is slick with the puck and really controls the flow of the game. It’s rare that you can find a player that can speed up and slow down the game almost at will. He rarely makes a bad defensive read on a play and without him; the team’s power play goes right down the toilet. He’s the perfect complement to Weber, in he can carry the puck up ice and get the offensive zone and dish it back to Weber who was trailing for the slap shot. He may not be as flashy as Weber but he gets the job done, and gets it done right.
If I had to choose between the two I would have to say my choice is Weber and not just because he is currently our captain, but because he brings notoriety to the team. Everyone knows who he is and what he brings and recognizes him as one of the best. That doesn’t mean that Suter is as good it’s just a different type of player. In the Preds system we have a few mobile puck handling defence man who are known to be able to run power plays, even though none are equal to Suter he is still somewhat replaceable in a sense. While we don’t have another Weber, those defensemen who can take charge and make the big hits and big shot. This year it has seemed as though when the team needs it Weber has stepped up and delivered, whether it was the game against Chicago recently where scored the game-tying goal or pasts where he has created the game winner or another important goal that has allowed the team to win.
Hopefully the team can somehow find a way to sign both of these players as it would devastate the team for either to leave.