On Thursday we were adamant that the Predators must match Shea Weber’s offer sheet from Philadelphia. However, that is not a guarantee and there are both advantages and disadvantages of matching the $110 million offer sheet.
Here is a quick pros and cons list, provided by myself and Jacob Underwood:
– Well, the first advantage is obvious: Captain Weber would be back in Predator Gold. He is one of a select handful of NHLers most general managers would build their franchise around. The Predators could do that with Weber for the next 14 years.
– As far as the on-ice personnel goes, they’d be able to keep their heads above water at least for a year. If the up-front money means the Predators can’t make any outside additions and they have to roll with the current lineup, this is still a playoff contender with Barry Trotz at the helm. A Stanley Cup contender? No, but they could certainly regain that status in the coming years with their foundation of youth and some of the money they didn’t spend on Ryan Suter.
– If they elect to match, the Predators have two marketable superstars (Rinne and Weber) signed for the next seven-plus seasons. That fact alone makes life easier for business operations and it gives the Predators’ brass more to work with. Locally, continuing to grow the fan base is vital. Nationally, having two star players makes the Predators a more interesting team instead of an afterthought.
– The fan base’s reaction to losing Weber this way would not be pretty. In a summer where Poile would have lost Weber and Suter (and Alexander Radulov, don’t forget) for a combined four draft picks won’t sit well with the fans (some have stated via social media that they would cancel their season tickets if Poile does not match). So, matching the offer sheet would cause an on-edge fan base to back away from the ledge.
– The Predators would have to shell out $27 million to Weber between now and next July 1st. Under the current CBA, the league’s maximum annual salary is ~$14 million – so the Preds would be paying almost twice as much of the league max to Weber in less than a calendar year. That’s an extraordinary amount of money for any NHL team to pay any player.
– In the first four years of the contract, the Predators would pay a total of $52 million in signing bonuses. Bonus money is not insured; it’s guaranteed. With Weber’s concussion history, it could be a roll of the dice. (That said – signing any player, injury history or not, to a 14-year deal is a risk.) No matter what – injury, lockout, etc. – Weber will get paid.
– Another point with the significant amount of money in the contract’s first four years: the Predators would essentially be signing two $7 million players. The $14 million being doled out in each of the first four years would almost be like they signed both Suter and Weber, but only retained the captain.
– Would there be an awkward feeling if the Predators brought back Weber in this scenario? Unless he privately demanded a trade, I don’t feel he truly wants to leave Nashville. My guess is that his No. 1 priority is to get the trendy, massive contract before the next CBA may not allow it. If Weber really wants out, why would he sign a 14-year deal knowing Nashville could match it?
Our consensus feeling still is that the Predators need to match Weber’s offer sheet. However, the ongoing silence hasn’t persuaded anyone to think that they will. The deadline for Poile and the Predators to make their decision is 10:30 p.m. central Wednesday night.
Jacob Underwood contributed to this post