With the lack of talent remaining in the free agency pool, many teams in need of high-end talent have resorted to acquiring restricted free agents. Shea Weber, arguably the best defencemen in the NHL, is one of many restricted free agents currently on every general manager's radar.
With his contract up at the end of next season, the Nashville Predators, after losing another high-end defensive talent in Ryan Suter, are forced to try and sign the prolific blue-liner.
The problem is the Philadelphia Flyers beat them to the punch.
Michael Traikos of the National Post reported the Flyers and Shea Weber signed an offer sheet on Wednesday night worth over $110 million for 14 years of his services.
If these long contracts are the current trend of the NHL, though they may be short-lived, the Nashville Predators must do the same for Shea Weber. If there is any player that deserves this kind of commitment, it's him.
Pekka Rinne is a top-five goaltender in the NHL, but that just isn't enough to build a competitive team. If the Nashville Predators allow the Flyers to sign Shea Weber, the Preds are forced into rebuild. This will inevitably discourage your starting goaltender; just ask Martin Brodeur how he felt before and after the New Jersey Devils made a Stanley Cup run this past year.
With Rinne being your best player, and only superstar, this is not an option.
Weber and Rinne are easily franchise players, and with two on the same team, the backbone of this squad is already fulfilled. If you look at other teams around the league, multiple franchise players have become the new trend of successful teams.
In Detroit, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. In Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. In Chicago, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. In Vancouver, the Sedin twins. The Los Angeles Kings and the Philadelphia Flyers have now taken this to a whole new level, making it very important for teams lagging behind to at least stay afloat.
In addition, the Predators also have a high-end, puck-moving defensive prospect in Ryan Ellis, making the replacing of Ryan Suter...easier done than said? With Weber's mind-boggling cannon of a shot and Ellis' play-making ability, the Preds could be in for one of the most dangerous defensive pairings in the NHL.
The time has come for the Preds to upgrade their top-six forwards, while ensuring the services of Weber and Rinne for years to come. It will be difficult to spend this money on one player, but he is your captain and, by far, your best skater. They will need to keep Weber in Nashville to sustain the current progress they've made, otherwise, back to square one.
Is he worth all that dough?
The current contracts around the league would suggest yes.
The most interesting part of all is the Nashville Predators have the most money to spend in the league. With almost $30 million in cap space, it would seem almost necessary to match the offer from the Philadelphia Flyers.
The question is, will they? Losing the face of the franchise versus spending a lot of money, tough call.
David Poile, good luck.
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