Now that Weber has been locked up as a Predator for life, the bigger question was who would be paired with Weber. As the announcement and plaza party were underway, the Predators made it clear that Roman Josi would probably be elevated to the top defensive line with Weber.
This leaves two more lines to be rounded out by a combination of Hal Gill, Kevin Klein, Ryan Ellis or Jonathan Blum. Given that the Predators are only now at the salary cap floor and Weber’s initial up-front money is ridiculously huge, should the Predators go after another capable vet to anchor the second line and possibly switch out with Josi if he can’t cut it playing first line minutes?
After Suter strung along the Predators for the first week of free agency, the Predators lost what could have been great replacements in Sheldon Souray and Jason Garrison. The defensive talent pool, which was shallow to begin with, now has only a few viable options for the Predators.
Carlo Colaiacovo is one such defenseman who has a ton of upside and little downside. His cap hit the last two seasons was only $2.125M and he ranks better than most on the Player Usage Charts. While Colaiacovo doesn’t put up a huge amount of points, he does provide the stay-at-home defensive ability that Weber would require to be..well…Weber. Colaiacovo finished last season +7 and had 2 goals and 17 assists (interesting fact: his two goals were both game winners). His low penalty minutes is a good indicator that he is rarely out of position and doesn’t get caught up by other forwards trying to goad him into penalties.
We could throw Michal Rozsival in the mix but his age combined with his much higher salary demands would make him prime for picking up by a team with deeper pockets. I also looked at Milan Jurcina because he also fared well in the Player Usage Charts, but his 11 points and dreadful -34 was cause for concern.
The best part to Carlo Colaiacovo is he’s only 29 years old, much younger than many of the above UFA’s still on the market for top-4 defenseman.The Predators should try to get Colaiacovo for at least two years and pair him with Kevin Klein (who should also be extended after a great season and playoffs). If Josi can turn into what Weber needs for that top line, having a secondary line of Klein and Colaiacovo would be a dangerous shutdown option, especially with Hall Gill and Ryan Ellis/Jonathan Blum anchoring the third line.
What are your thoughts? Are the Predators set for next year? Or should they try to get one more defensive piece as the “just in case”?Who would you want to go after?