UFA Tracker

Rumor Roundup: Will Shea Weber still end up with the Philadelphia Flyers?

Nashville’s big defenseman, who signed an offer sheet with Philadelphia in 2012, may be too expensive for the low-budget Predators. If Nashville makes Weber available on the trade market, will the Flyers be able to land him?

The Philadelphia Flyers could use some help on their defense to boost their playoff hopes, but pickings are slim on the trade market. CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio doesn’t see anyone the Flyers could acquire who would bolster their blueline.

Responding to questions from his readers, Panaccio notes the Nashville Predators’ stockpiling of young defensemen suggests they could be willing to part with captain Shea Weber and his massive contract. Weber signed a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet from the Flyers in July 2012, which the Predators subsequently matched.

Panaccio believes the Flyers still have interest in Weber as a replacement for the all-but-retired Chris Pronger, but doubts such a move will occur by the trade deadline. The Predators are battling for a wild card berth in the Western Conference. They wouldn’t handicap their chances by trading Weber, whose contract would be difficult to move during the season.

The best time for the Flyers, or anyone else, to pursue Weber (who lacks a no-trade clause) is this summer, when the salary cap jumps from $64.3 million to $71 million. The Predators desperately need scoring depth and could move Weber if offered a package containing at least a prime first-line scorer.

If the Flyers acquire a defenseman by the deadline it’ll likely be a rental player. Their options include Buffalo’s Henrik Tallinder, Calgary’s Chris Butler, Edmonton’s Nick Schultz, Florida’s Tom Gilbert or the New York Islanders’ Andrew MacDonald.

The Boston Bruins are also in the market for a defenseman. CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty reports they have an opening for a big, physical, shot-blocking blueliner.

Haggerty suggests the Bruins could offer up a couple of “non-first round picks” to the Islanders for Andrew MacDonald, though he doesn’t fit the profile of a shutdown rearguard. They’re not expected to make a pitch for New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. The Bruins were linked to Ottawa’s Chris Phillips, but the Senators aren’t shopping him.

READ ALSO:  Rumor Roundup: Jets moving Andrew Ladd could kick off flurry of trade activity

They could pursue a defenseman with term on his contract. Haggerty mentions Calgary’s Mark Giordano, but believes the asking price would be a good young player such as Reilly Smith. Given Giordano’s value to the rebuilding Flames they’re unlikely to move him.

Like the Flyers, if the Bruins add a defenseman it’ll likely be an affordable playoff rental. They’ve sought a replacement for the sidelined Dennis Seidenberg for several weeks, but won’t find a comparable player on this year’s trade market.

Teams in need of a big, physical defenseman for the playoffs should give the Calgary Flames a call. Shane O’Brien, a veteran of 528 games with five NHL teams, is available. He was demoted to the Abbottsford Heat after clearing waivers last month.

Scott Cruickshank of The Calgary Herald reports Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke will try to trade O’Brien. The 30-year-old blueliner carries an annual cap hit of $2 million through next season. With 23 teams carrying $5 million or less in cap space, it’s no surprise he cleared waivers.

O’Brien can also be undisciplined and struggles at times against swifter forwards. Still, a playoff contender seeking defensive depth could give him a second look before the trade deadline.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.