NHL Free Agency 2012: What Shea Weber's Offer Sheet Means for the Predators

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NHL Free Agency 2012: What Shea Weber's Offer Sheet Means for the Predators
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It has been a rough offseason for the Nashville Predators. A few days into free agency they lost one of their star defensemen when Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild.

On July 18th more bad news for the Predators came down the pipe, as Nashville captain Shea Weber signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers. 

The offer sheet is something that is not often used in today’s NHL, as only a few players have signed an one since the lockout.

Philadelphia signed Shea Weber to a 14-year offer reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger to be worth $100 million, while Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos puts the figure as upwards as $110 million.

The deal is front loaded with signing bonuses, as reported by Dreger in a subsequent tweet early July 19th.

With Weber receiving a reported $68 million in the first six years in signing bonuses, $27 million of that will be received in the first year alone.

Poile and the Predators have a week to look over the offer sheet and either match it or take the compensation from Philly.

Nashville GM David Poile has repeatedly said they would match any offer sheets made to Weber, according to an article on NHL.com.

The same article mentions that the compensation that Nashville could be eligible for would be a package of four first-round picks from Philly.

This all depends on the annual average value of Weber’s contract.

Nick Kypreos, analyst for Canadian sporting news channel Sportsnet, broke down the offer sheet on his twitter account, found here.

The full contract offers approximately $42 million in salary with the remainder coming in bonuses. That works out to an average of $3 million in salary per year.

The Sporting News has stated that the cap hit will be at $7.85 million

There are a few things that Poile and the Nashville organization will have to consider before responding.

Should Nashville match the offer sheet, they will be unable to trade Weber for the first year, but will be required to pay out all the bonuses in the offer.

They are also unable to renegotiate with Weber, as the matched offer becomes the contract that Nashville would have to honor.

Weber is the captain for the Predators, and has been steadily growing a fanbase for their team. His loss could impact some of these newly-found fans.

Nashville also needs to fill the void left by Ryan Suter, which could take some time or trades by the Predators.

If they allow Weber to go to Philadelphia, they would receive compensation, which as previously mentioned should be four first-round picks.

They could utilize these picks to try to rebuild the blue line around some young stars, but that would take time that Nashville may not have.

Should Nashville Match the Offer Sheet?

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They have seen success in the past few seasons, making the playoffs seven of the last eight years and going to the conference semifinals for the past two. 

A rebuild could lose the fanbase that has started grow with Nashville's success.

Another option should they not match the offer sheet, is to utilize the draft picks in a trade with another team as they rebuild their defensive core.

They have a few veteran defensemen and a couple rookies who will need to step up should they lose Weber as well.

One other thing that Poile will have to take into account while deciding to match or walk away from the offer, is whether Weber actually wants to leave Nashville.

If Weber truly wants out of Nashville and Poile matches the deal, it could be disastrous as Weber may be resentful of being forced to play even longer in a town he does not want to be in.

That is not to say that Weber would purposely play badly, but he may be unhappy and like Rick Nash did in Columbus, ask for a trade before the contract has run its course.

Whichever path Nashville takes, Poile will have much to consider before he reaches a decision. It may also be wise to ask if Weber wants to continue playing in Nashville.

No matter what the decision is from the Predators head office, it will affect the Nashville club for more than a decade to come.

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