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Preds must match Weber’s offer sheet with Flyers

Ownership has said all along that they will do anything to win a Stanley Cup. The team has also said they will match any offer sheet that comes Shea Weber’s way this off-season.

They have abruptly been put to the test here in the dog days of summer.

According to reports early this morning, the Philadelphia Flyers signed restricted free agent Shea Weber to a 14-year offer sheet that would pay him $110 million, making him the highest-paid defenseman in the history of the NHL.

Here are some details from Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos:

 

 

As Kypreos is reporting, this contract is extremely front-loaded with signing bonuses ($56 million in first four years, if the report is correct) – something that has never been in the Predators’ DNA. Now it will have to be.

It’s been 15 days since Ryan Suter took his talents to the State of Hockey. At that time, GM David Poile said the attention would immediately shift to Weber. According to Poile in occasional updates from The Tennessean, those negotiations were ongoing but nothing seemed imminent.

You have to wonder if Weber grew tired of the negotiation process dragging out, looked at the Sept. 15 CBA deadline (less than two months away) and decided to move along and get his big contract sooner rather than later. In simplest terms he’s telling Poile, “Pay me or I’m gone.”

(Remember: the new CBA may not allow these decade-long contracts, which means Weber’s opportunity to be the highest-paid defenseman is now.)

Now the Predators have seven days to match this offer sheet from Philadelphia. $56 million in the first four years and $110 million over 14 years is a lot of dough – a lot, especially in a market like Nashville. But to retain Weber, the Predators were already going to have to pony up that kind of money. Also, they offered Suter $90 million over 13 years.

So essentially, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has essentially already done the work for Poile.

The compensation the Predators would acquire for Weber – four first-round picks, likely after 20th overall – isn’t even in the same stratosphere when it comes to proper value for Weber. It isn’t even close to what the Predators could have received in a trade (which is no longer an option) for the two-time Norris Trophy finalist.

Acquiring four late first-round picks does not guarantee anything. Once you get beyond the top 10-15 picks, it’s a crapshoot as to whether those draftees are going to be quality NHLers one day or not. And the Flyers, with Weber in the lineup, would be a Stanley Cup contender for years to come.

So Poile, one would assume, isn’t going to walk away from the offer sheet because of the compensation he would receive. Getting four draft picks in return for Weber and Suter combined would be an utter failure.

Poile would be walking away because of the lucrative money that has been thrown at Weber by the Flyers. If that happens and the Predators opt not to match Weber’s offer sheet due to financial reasons, it contradicts everything the team has said over the last couple of years.

It’s time for the Predators to walk the walk.

 
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