Shea Weber's Arbitration and the Long Term Effects on the Predators

John BainCorrespondent IIAugust 4, 2011

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators warms up prior to facing the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on March 31, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Shea Weber is one of the top defencemen in the NHL today and probably the best of his generation.

On Wednesday, August 3, 2011, the Nashville Predators along with Weber went to salary arbitration to try and hammer out a new contract to keep the Preds captain in Nashville.

Going into the hearing, Weber and his agent were asking for $8 million a year, while Nashville GM David Poile wanted to pay him $4.75 million.

The fact that the Predators weren't able to get a deal done with Weber prior to the start of his restricted free-agency period is shocking as the Preds made Weber their franchise player soon after they drafted him.

They filed for arbitration as a way of protecting themselves from offer sheets on Weber. In doing so, it appeared as though the Predators wanted to keep Weber long term.

Their offer of $4.75 million was clearly a low-ball proposal and almost insulting to Weber's abilities. The arbitrator agreed and rewarded Weber with a one-year, $7.5-million deal.

The hearing itself clearly had an impact on Weber's relationship with both Nashville Predators ownership and management. Weber will become a free agent after the 2011-12 season and is now most likely to walk and get a better deal elsewhere.

Not only did it affect Weber, but in the long run it will impact future free agents both coming to and departing from the Music City. 

If the Predators cannot show their franchise player enough monetary respect to keep him, what are other star players going to the Preds or upcoming free agents like Vezina-nominated goaltender Pekka Rinne going to do when it comes time to sign a deal?

The Nashville Predators really shot themselves in the foot on this deal.

They were just about to become bona-fide contenders in the NHL for a Cup shot, but when they aren't going to commit to their future and their captain as they probably should, it's not going to get them very far.

Time to rethink your strategy, Smashville.