Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nashville Predators Botch Shea Weber Contract

When Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild, did his former teammate Shea Weber decide at that exact moment he wanted to leave the music city? He was clearly shocked at the news, but perhaps more at the size of Suter's deal than the fact he departed. Not only that, but here we are, hopefully under 2 months from the next CBA where the type of money Suter got will not be available. Term limits on contracts, no more front loaded deals, and Lord only knows what else. Weber is one of the top 3 defensemen in the NHL and deserves a higher wage than Suter. It was almost a crime against common sense that Suter was able to secure such an abundant bounty. Upon seeing where the market is currently priced, any RFA defenseman would be advised to get the best deal they can before the window closes, whether they want to leave town or not.

I don't believe that a desire to leave Nashville was necessarily to sole impetus for signing the offer sheet with Philadelphia; but rather getting his extension before the current CBA expires. I'm also willing to wager that the Predators very much wanted a new CBA before locking their captain up to a long term deal. It was in Weber's best interest to sign a long term contract this summer, and in the Predators best interest to let the current CBA expire. If Poile was indeed trying to delay a Weber extension until the end of the summer, he wouldn't exactly be able to come out and say it, especially if Shea was serious about getting a deal done before the window closes. If one side is trying to get a contract before September, and the other is trying to postpone the contract until after September, that creates a perfect storm for animosity (amplified when it is one of the league's most valuable players).

This offer sheet is damned if you do, damned if you don't for Nashville. It should be a no brainer. Players of that ilk are incredibly difficult to find, and worth every penny. However if the Preds match the offer, that is going to consume a substantial chunk of their player budget, given the front loaded structure of the deal. Rinne and Weber will be making about $20M between the two of them next year alone. Those two players will be carrying a very large burden on their shoulders. Should they decline to match the offer, then their franchise is in far more serious financial trouble than any pundit has speculated over the last two years (and they belong in Hamilton). Letting him walk will decimate their chances of success, especially in the near term, and we would likely see that fan base they have been bragging about evaporate very quickly. It will take time before those draft picks to develop.

If the Flyers are able to add Shea Weber, expect them to be a top Cup contender for at least the next 5 years (ergo, they will be low draft picks). My prediction, Preds accept the deal, suck it up, even if it bankrupts the franchise.

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