Here’s the breakdown for Shea Weber’s offer sheet:
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) July 19, 2012
If you do the math, that’s a $110 million contract with Weber with a $68 million signing bonus in the first six years. Ryan Suter received $25 million in signing bonuses from Minnesota under the assumption that the new CBA will bring in some sort of salary rollback.
I think the obvious move for the Preds is to match, but the cash-strapped Preds might not have the type of money to do it. I’m sure Paul Holmgren knows this too – there’s really no point in giving an offer sheet if you think the other team has a good chance of matching.
Why the Preds should match
There’s no reason not to if the organization has the money. Weber is the franchise player and team captain and one of the reasons why the Predators have remained in playoff contention all these years. He’s a game-changer and easily one of the best defensemen in the league. They don’t grow on trees.
Why the Preds shouldn’t match
If you do that math given Kypreos’ breakdown, that’s $56 million for the first four years for Weber. Do the Preds have that much money? Can they really handcuff themselves with that kind of contract? Can ownership spend that much money on one player? In 2011, Forbes valued the Predators at around $160 million.
The compensation for Weber is four first round picks. Under CBA section 10.4, for any offer sheet over five years, the compensation is based on the entire value of the contract divided by five. Since Weber’s contract is over five years, the compensation is based on a cap hit of $22 million per year ($110 million / 5 years). Given the Preds’ strength in drafting and development, they’re one of the few teams who can turn those picks into gems. The Preds have never drafted lower than 23rd in the first round (Jon Blum in 2007), and if all goes well for Philadelphia, the four first rounders may be no higher than 25th. I’m convinced the market value for Weber is much better than that. Weber is far superior and far better than Rick Nash, who is being held at a king’s ransom by Scott Howson.
Losing Suter is a big piece and the Preds don’t look like a playoff team without him. Losing Weber will certainly see the end of the Preds’ streak of three straight playoff appearances. But this is also a good chance for the franchise to re-build. The Suter-Weber era is over. With Pekka Rinne (I totally feel for him – if Weber leaves, their No. 1 shut-down guy is Hal Gill) in net the Preds remain respectable, but the obvious goal is to re-focus on stocking the pipeline via the draft. Why not stink for a few years, nab a couple high picks (15 or higher) and make another charge further down the road? It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the Preds are forced to make that kind of decision right now.
Why did Weber agree to the deal?
That’s actually my biggest question right now. Weber was clearly disappointed when Suter left and has made it clear that he wants to play for a Cup contender. A lot of his close teammates on the Canadian Olympic team already have Cup rings, including Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. But if Nashville matches, that essentially means Weber will stay in Tennessee for the rest of his career. It’s possible the Preds match and then trade Weber down the road (for more than four late first rounders), but keeping him for a year also means Nashville’s on the hook for $27 million for one year. I agree with Kypreos – no f’ing way the Preds do that.
I’m thinking this is Weber’s way of forcing Nashville’s hand. The long, drawn-out process of losing Suter – the season-long rumours and the wait until July 4 before the signing – must’ve been discouraging. Now Weber’s in charge of his future one year before he reaches unrestricted free agency.
The other suitor
The scuttlebutt around the Internet world is that the Canucks were the second team in the bidding for Weber’s services. It’s not surprising, considering Weber is a B.C. native, but surprising because the Canucks seem insistent on fixing a blueline that isn’t broke. The Canucks need depth up front, not on the back end where they already have Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard.
If the Canucks were serious about nabbing Weber, we would’ve seen a completely revamped blueline in Vancouver. That’s the most curious part to me. There’s no way the Canucks can fit Weber and newly-signed Jason Garrison without getting rid of someone. We know it’s not Hamhuis. It’s not Bieksa either, who plays a large part of the team’s emotional core. That leaves Ballard, and perhaps Edler, who becomes a UFA at the end of the 2012-13 season and is guaranteed to cash in big after being mentioned as a dark horse Norris candidate before fading in the second half of the season and playoffs.
Easy. If I have the money, it’s an instant match. If not, I take the picks.
EDIT: Arbitration hearings never end on a particularly good note. Some players recover and forget about it, others hold a grudge, like Mike Cammalleri. Weber’s hearing last year was reported to have been pretty intense, with the Predators making a case for Weber to sign for $4.75 million. Apparently Weber hasn’t forgotten how tough it was.