With Ryan Suter's departure a thing of the past, Nashville Predators GM David Poile said his full attention now is focused on getting defenseman and team captain Shea Weber to sign a long-term contract with the team.
"Shea is the player we want to build our franchise around," Poile told The Tennessean on Friday. "He's our captain, he's our leader and at some point we would like to enter into a longer term contract with him. That's what our goal is and we'll see over the next little while if we can make that happen."
Weber had career-bests of 19 goals and 49 points last season, and he's averaged at least 16 goals the past six seasons. He won a $7.5 million, one-year contract in arbitration last year, and currently is a restricted free agent again.
However, Poile remains confident the team and Weber can agree on a new deal that keeps the 2003 second-round pick in Nashville for the long haul.
"He believes in us, sees himself as the leader of our hockey club, and I think he, a lot like us, is disappointed with the outcome with Ryan," Poile said. "So having said that, we have to both get back up on the horse and find a way to fill the hole and move forward. Hopefully that will be together. Right now, if you ask me, I think Shea feels that way."
As far as replacing Suter, who signed a 13-year contract with the Minnesota Wild on July 4, Poile said a number of options exist.
"I'm not committed or sold on any one particular type of player or a specific player," he said. "If we were, we might have made that move. We're having talks within our organization, we're having talks with agents and we're having talks with other teams. You have to give it some time."