NEW YORK -- Nashville Predators general manager David Poile is doing his best to put to rest any rumors that he might be looking to trade captain Shea Weber, who is a Norris Trophy finalist this season.
"We're keeping him, we're building our franchise around him," Poile said from the NHL general managers' meeting Wednesday. "I think we've got one of the best young defenses in the League. I think he's got an excellent chance of winning the Norris Trophy in 11 or 12 days from now. Why wouldn't we build our team around him? That's exactly what we're doing."
The Predators selected defenseman Seth Jones in the first round (No. 4) of the 2013 NHL Draft. He had six goals and 19 assists in 77 games as a rookie.
The defense corps also includes 24-year-old Roman Josi, who is signed through the 2019-20 season. Defensemen Mattias Ekholm, 24, Ryan Ellis, 23, and Michael Del Zotto, 23, who was acquired in January in a trade with the New York Rangers, each can become a restricted free agent July 1.
Poile indicated that he is in the market for forwards to help improve the Predators around Weber.
"When we get that, you'll be saying, 'Imagine that someone ever thought they would trade Shea Weber,'" Poile said. "No, we are not trading Shea Weber."
Weber, 28, has spent his nine-season career with the Predators. He is signed for 12 more seasons and his contract carries a salary-cap charge of $7.857 million.
Panthers' No. 1 pick very much in play
Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said he is "very open" to trading the No. 1 pick in the upcoming 2014 NHL Draft, which takes place June 27-28 in Philadelphia.
Tallon said he is listening to inquiries and talking to teams interested in the pick. Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving admitted last week that he had talked with Tallon about the top pick.
"We're looking to make a move that benefits our franchise, end of story," Tallon said. "It has to be the right thing, and the chances of it happening, I don't know how great they are. What's the value? What's the cost to move up? That's what we're trying to figure out right now."
Rutherford getting acclimated
New Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said he'd like to have a coach in place before the free-agency signing period begins July 1.
Rutherford stressed there will be changes coming to the Penguins roster, but he wouldn't go into any details. He said he has not yet spoken to the agent for defenseman Matt Niskanen, but it's on his to-do list.
Niskanen, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, had career-highs across the board this season with 10 goals, 36 assists, 46 points, 81 games played, a plus-36 rating and 162 shots on goal.
"He had a good year, and I'm trying to figure that out," Rutherford said. "That's not going to be easy, but certainly with the year he had we'd like to take a look at it."
Rutherford said he has not met with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
"Right now, we've got the coach and the draft and free agency," Rutherford said. "I've been calling trying to say hello to players and half of them are wrong numbers or they're off on vacation somewhere. I'm trying to get as much done as I can in a short period of time."
Bowman trying to lock up Kane and Toews long term
Chicago Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have one more year left on their respective contracts. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman hopes to get each signed to long-term extensions soon after July 1.
"That's been our No. 1 objective all along, and I'm expecting to meet that," Bowman said. "It's still June 11, and we've still got a few more weeks before we do anything."
Kane and Toews are currently playing on five-year, $31.5 million contracts.