Nashville Predators: Shea Weber Stays, Preds Couldn't Lose Him and Suter

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2012

The Preds have retained explosive defenseman Shea Weber.
The Preds have retained explosive defenseman Shea Weber.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers thought they took a necessary step when they signed Shea Weber to an offer sheet that would have given him the second-most lucrative contract in the league behind Alex Ovechkin, and would have put him in a Flyers uniform for the next 14 seasons.

However, the Flyers received a shock when the Nashville Predators swallowed hard and matched the Flyers' offer sheet (per Nashville Predators/

Predators' general manager David Poile had already taken a solid body blow when defenseman Ryan Suter left the team through free agency. If Weber's contract offer had not been matched, the team would have lost two all-star defenseman.

It was widely thought that the Predators didn't have the wherewithal to handle a 14-year, $110 million contract, but paying the money was obviously a better alternative (per for Nashville than losing two elite defensemen in the same offseason.

Nashville's decision will cause the Flyers nothing but pain. Philadelphia felt a need to add a No. 1 defenseman because general manager Paul Holmgren knows he cannot count on the return of defenseman Chris Pronger. Holmgren now knows that Weber is no longer available.

Poile was quite angry and upset when Suter decided to go with the Wild. He claimed that Suter had misled him during the season when they had talked about his contract status. Poile said Suter told him he wanted to be with a winner and stay with the Predators (per Pro Hockey Talk), and that moving on to the Wild represented a change in that philosophy.

Poile appeared to take the signing personally.

He said his next line of business was making sure that Weber remained with the team.

Weber ranks with the very best defensemen in the league. He was a candidate for the Norris Trophy last season, and he excels at both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game. Weber will take the body, play physical defense and he will also block shots.

He is perhaps the most dangerous shooter from the blue line in the game. Weber is well known for his 100-plus mile per hour slap shot that he shows off every year at the skills competition.

While he regularly comes in second in that exhibition to Boston's Zdeno Chara, he does not have to take a back seat to big Z in shooting effectiveness. Weber seems to get his shot off quicker than Chara does, and he is also quite accurate at firing his bomb to the upper reaches of the net.

Weber has scored 74 goals in the last four seasons. He scored 16 in 2011-12, and connected on 8.3 percent of his shots on net.

Chara has scored 52 goals over the last four seasons. He scored 12 goals in 2011-12, and connected on 5.4 percent of his shots on goal.

The Preds had no choice but to keep Weber if they had any hope of remaining in the upper echelon of the Western Conference. If they had lost both Suter and Weber, Poile and head coach Barry Trotz would have been in a rebuilding mode whether they wanted to admit it or not.

While the loss of Suter still hurts, if they had to choose between keeping Weber or Suter, then they made the right choice. The two are nearly equal defensively, but Weber is the much stronger offensive player.

Poile had a chip on his shoulder prior to matching the offer for Weber. Now that he has kept him in the fold, he can get back to the business of adding strength to this team and making it a strong contender for 2012-13.