SHOULD POILE MATCH?

Jason Gregor
July 19 2012 01:02PM

Shea Weber is smiling knowing that he will make $110 million for the remainder of his NHL career. That's some pretty sweet financial security for Weber, but I wonder what Preds' GM David Poile is thinking right now?

Does he match or take four first-round picks?

Some of the initial response is that the Preds have to match and that this could be a significant turning point for the franchise.

They match and secure their cornerstone D-man for the next 11 years (he won't play the final three years making only $1 million a year) and make it clear they won't lose stars to big markets.

This isn't just about money; it is about whether the Preds want to tell their fans they will compete. I don't like this message, but that's how it is, and every fan base not cheering for a major market team better hope the new CBA outlaws these types of deals in the next CBA.

That Flyers offer sheet appears legal under the existing CBA, and Weber will cash cheques from either Philadelphia or Nashville. Nick Kypreos reported that it pays $14 million per season for the first four years ($1 million in salary and a mind-blowing $13 million in signing bonus.)

That means Weber is due $27 million over the next twelve month, and the Flyers are hoping the small-market Preds aren't financially willing to pay that, and instead they will settle for the four first rounders.

The remaining 10 years of the deal breakdown like this, according to Kypreos.

Years 5 and 6: $12 million/year
Years 7-10:      $6 million/year
Year 11:            $3 million
Years 12-14     $1 million/year

CAN THE PREDS MATCH

The first question Poile has to be asking himself is if Weber is worth a $7.86 million cap hit?

The 14-year, $110 million offer sheet from the Flyers won't hurt the Preds cap wise, but the first six years of the deal are a huge blow to their internal budget.

Can the Predators afford to pay Weber $80 million for the first six years?

Only the owners can answer that.

But what about Weber's worth as a player.

Ken Holland never hid the fact that Nick Lidstrom made his job as GM easier. On most nights he had the best player on the ice, and he was playing 25-27 minutes a night. Sure the Wings had loads of offensive talent, but the one constant for the past two decades was Lidstrom.

Weber is widely considered the best D-man in the game right now. He's physical, he's mean, he can run a PP, he produces points and he'll play against the opposition's best players.

Last year when he was making $7.5 million not one person said he was overvalued. ( I don't say overpaid, because everyone making that much to play hockey is overpaid).

The 2012/2013 cap is currently at $70.2 million.

In 2012 the cap was $64.3 million.
In 2011 it was $59.4 million.
In 2010 it was $56.8 million.
In 2009 it was $56.7 million.

Weber isn't in Lidstrom's category, but he isn't far off. Lidstrom had a much better offensive supporting cast during his tenure in Detroit than Weber has ever had in Nashville.

In 2009 and 2010 Lidstrom made $7.45 million, and he was 13.1% of the Wing's cap. In 2011 he made $6.2 million, 10.4% of the cap and last year his $6.2 salary was 9.6% of the total cap.

Weber turns 27 in August and it safe to say he should have at least five or six year left of being an elite D-man.

His $7.86 cap hit will be 11.1% of this year's cap. Not an awful % when you consider how much he plays.

The challenge for Poile and the Pred's owners will be absorbing the large signing bonus. Do they have the money to pay him, and then will they have the money to surround him with some good offensive stars?

Currently the Preds are $14 million under the cap floor, so they will need to sign Weber and still add another $6.2 million to get to the floor for next year.

They have Pekka Rinne signed for next six years, and if they keep Weber they will have a guaranteed #1 D-man for the same time period, however, the Preds have never developed any legitimate skilled forwards. Signing Weber keeps them at status quo on the ice, but will his contract limit them from improving?

OPTIONS

  1. Walk away and take the four first rounders, which will likely be in the 22-30 range every year.
     
  2. Match it, tell your fans you will compete, and be willing to spend more to find some offensive players.
     
  3. Try to facilitate a trade with the Flyers in the next seven days. (This trade would officially occur after Weber was officially Philly property)

I think option 2 and 3 are their best bets. The four late first rounders won't pay off for at least seven years, if ever.

If they try and deal with the Flyers, they might be able to get some pieces that help right away and a few future picks.

Keep in mind that Poile was the GM of the Washington Capitals in 1990 when the St. Louis Blues offered Scott Stevens a four-year deal worth a combined $5.1 million. The caps didn't match the offer and settled for two first rounders, which could turn into five first rounders if the Caps didn't have a top-seven pick in 1991 or 1992.

The Caps ended up with five first-rounders: Trevor Halverson (21st, 1991), Sergei Gonchar (14th, 1992), Brendan Witt (11th, 1993), Alexander Kharlamov (15th, 1994) and Mika Elomo (23rd, 1995). It is clear they didn't win the deal, despite having five 1st round selections.

I don't see how Poile walks away and takes the four first rounders. He will either trade with the Flyers or pay Weber.

Reports are the Preds were asking for Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and something else prior to the Flyers offer sheet. I doubt they get that deal now, but they might get Couturier and Voracek.

I'd keep Weber and hope your scouting staff can find some young forwards.

It's a tough decision either way, but based on this comment I'm guessing the Preds best option will be a trade.

Weber's agent Jarret Bousquet said this regarding the Flyers offer sheet,  "I don't think you would sign an offer sheet unless you were hoping to go to that team."

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor