The Predators retain Weber and what it all means
The Predators have successfully matched the Flyers offer and have retained the services of Shea Weber for 14 years/$110 million. This is a big win for the Predators organization and their fans, but let’s look at the possible outcomes from this monumental signing:
The Predators financial situation just got worse
The Predators are considered a small market team and for them to match the offer for Shea Weber that the Flyers signed him to is a big event in the franchise’s history. It took them almost the full week to respond, but they appear to have scraped all the resources together to make this deal work. Already one of the teams that rely on revenue sharing, the Predators situation may get worse before it gets better. While monetarily crippling, this was a necessary decision from the Predators’ ownership. To lose Ryan Suter and Shea Weber in the same offseason would destroy the loyalty of their fan base and could’ve lead to the franchise being switched to another city. But, then again, this new Weber contract might make things end up the exact same way.
The Predators locker room just got worse
By signing an offer sheet, Shea Weber effectively told the Predators that he didn’t want to play there anymore. From the absurd size of the offer sheet alone, Weber probably assumed that the Predators weren’t going to be able to, or would want to, match. Possibly, quite to his dismay, Nashville called his bluff. While this is a big win for the Predators to show they place importance on keeping their star players, they just made their future business relationship with Weber slightly awkward. The argument to be had is: Weber shouldn’t have signed a 14 year offer sheet if he didn’t expect Nashville to match it. Another possibility is that Weber expected Nashville to match whatever was offered and used the Flyers as a way to drive up his asking price. Regardless of his initial intent, he’s now in a situation where he is playing in Nashville for, potentially, the rest of his career.
The NHL hates these kinds of deals
One of the current issues in the new CBA bargaining is the ridiculously long, front loaded contract. And, within the last months of the old CBA, three players took advantage of the loopholes. Parise, Suter, and Weber have all been signed to lengthy deals that help to lessen the cap hit and pay out more in bonus money. The NHL also cannot protest Weber’s deal since it fits within the rules they prescribed after the Kovalchuk contract debacle. While the contract is legal in the eyes of the NHL, it’s still protested. However, in Weber’s eyes, this is the best option for him money wise. He takes advantage of the stipulation in this current CBA to guarantee money and pockets all of his $110 million. If he had waited until next year, his only option may have been a contract that was five years or less, and would’ve been for far less money.
The NHLPA may also hate these kinds of deals
Based on the revenue sharing, the players may be paying to even out the Predators lack of money after having to pay Weber $27 million next year. For the franchises that are bringing in a profit, it may come down to them helping the Predators survive in Nashville. If the CBA changes, then there’s a possibility, like mentioned previously, where Nashville could be on the move to a new, stronger hockey market.
The end result for the Flyers
– The Flyers lose their number one defenseman.
Let’s face it: Pronger is done for. Weber would’ve filled that role. He’s 26, in the prime of his career, and is a right-handed shot the Flyers desperately needed. He would’ve become the defensive anchor on the back end for the next decade. Now the Flyers have to figure out where they are going to find that number one they need. Next year, Timonen’s contract will come off the books, so it’s imperative that they find their man by at least the next off-season.
– Holmgren may now be referred to as a league bully.
While there is no rule about signing restricted free agents, what Holmgren did is, by all accounts, an underhanded move. It can be argued that he told the Predators if he couldn’t work out a trade, he would sign Weber to an offer sheet. But it’s still a practice that draws some ire. Holmgren looks like he was trying to strong arm Nashville, which is exactly what he was doing, and now other GMs in the league may be more hesitant to trade with him.
– The Flyers need to be smart about using their cap space.
While having Bobby Ryan or Shane Doan would be nice, the Flyers need a top defenseman. Everyone else will be a nice addition once the Flyers tie up a solid defenseman with the cap space they have left. If last season is any indicator, while the Flyers scored 5-6 goals a game, the shoddy defense didn’t do anything to protect the leads. It appears Holmgren has already realized that the money has to pay for a defenseman first and then everything else can fall into place later.