Shea Weber: Nashville Predators Had to Match Irrational 14-Year Contract

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIJuly 24, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 07:  Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators skates with the puck in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Arena on May 7, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Predators 2-1 to win the series 4 games to 1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Nashville Predators prevented a catastrophic loss of one of the team's franchise players by matching the offer sheet that the Philadelphia Flyers extended to Shea Weber.

According to the team's official Twitter account, the captain will be back for the next 14 seasons:

Shea Weber will remain in #Smashville; Preds match 14-year offer sheet on team Captain -- click here for full details…

— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) July 24, 2012

There is absolutely no way that Weber will play at a level remotely near a $110 million deal for the entirety of this contract, but it was something that the Predators had to do.

If the organization declined to match the front-loaded offer, that will pay Weber $27 million by the time the defenseman's second $13 million bonus of the year is handed over on July 1, 2013 (via CBS Sports' Brian Stubits), that would mark the second star that bolted out of Nashville for greener pastures this offseason.

Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild earlier this month. To lose a second star defenseman within a three-week span would have been crippling to the Predators.

Even with the retention of Weber, Nashville is going to have a tough time filling the void left by the departed Suter. However, the organization has now proved to its fanbase that it is not afraid or reluctant to spend money on a player that matters.

Whether Weber is happy with the Predators matching the contract remains to be seen. Would he have agreed to an offer sheet with a different team if he didn't want to play in a bigger market with more tradition? That is for the Predators and hockey fans to ponder.

The Predators are a defense-first team, and there would be no chance of matching last season's 104-point campaign if head coach Barry Trotz lost the second of his top-two defenders.

By re-signing Weber, the Preds saved their power-play attack. The 26-year-old former second-round pick has racked up 46 power-play goals in seven seasons, including 10 last year en route to helping his team compile the best power-play percentage in the NHL.

If nothing else, general manager David Poile and the rest of the front office saved face by keeping a fan-favorite in town. The organization was able to keep some grit on the ice, as well as hang on to one of its leaders.

No athlete in any professional sport should receive a 14-year deal with the amount of turnover we see on a year-to-year basis, but there are exceptions to the rule.

The Nashville Predators matching the offer sheet for Shea Weber was one of those exceptions.