Shea Weber Stays with Preds; Nashville Matches Flyers Offer Sheet
Shea Weber will remain with the Nashville Predators as the Preds matched Weber’s offer sheet for 14 years, $110 million from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Shea Weber was the source of countless NHL rumors this offseason, but the saga is finally complete and it appears to have a happy ending for the Preds. After trade talks between the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators broke down, the Flyers extended Weber a gigantic contract offer when the restricted free agent hit the open market. The Nashville Predators were forced to either match Weber’s massive offer sheet, a 14-year deal worth a front-loaded $110 million, or let Weber walk for four first-round picks. After lengthy deliberations, the Nashville Predators’ brass opted to match the historic deal and keep their captain.
The contract was a brilliant manipulation of the financial limits of a small-market franchise, but the Preds appear ready to meet the burdens of the Weber’s unprecedented bonus structure. Shea Weber is due two separate bonuses in the first year of $12 million in addition to his salary. Because restricted free agents cannot be traded for one year after signing, the Nashville Predators have committed at least $25 million dollars to keeping Shea Weber. Such a tremendous investment in a defenseman poses several issues for a franchise moving forward.
First, the Predators’ financial figures appear to be quite damning. Despite averaging 98% attendance at home games and developing a strong following in Nashville, the Preds have struggled to make their organization profitable in Tennessee. Nashville is a consistent playoff threat, but financial issues continue to define the team despite sustained success. The Predators have matched Shea Weber’s contract, but can they actually come up with the money?
Additionally, Weber’s cap hit for the next 14 seasons is a staggering $7.8 million. Even if the Predators are able to pay Weber, the Preds will also need to build a winning team around his massive contract. Nashville has chosen Shea Weber to be the face of the franchise. He was their captain and is signed for what could be the rest of his career. Is Shea Weber the right player to build a winning franchise around?
The Nashville Predators have made a humongous investment in Shea Weber, fending off the more financially stable Philadelphia Flyers franchise and their efforts to poach Nashville’s best player. The contract is a difficult financial burden for the Preds to match, and building a winning team around one defensive player will be a challenge. Still, small-market hockey prevailed and David slayed Goliath.
The Flyers are left out of another big-name sweepstakes. The New York Rangers traded for Rick Nash, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter chose the Minnesota Wild, and Shea Weber will be retained by the Nashville Predators. Philadelphia continues to run low on options. The Flyers can still make a move for Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks, while Alexander Semin and Shane Doan are available through free agency. Philadelphia is running out of time to solidify their roster, and the Atlantic Division continues to get more competitive.
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