SHOULD POILE MATCH?

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."



  • Shapeman

    Can you highlight how/where the NHL is increasing revenue so quickly? TV? Ticket sales? Merchandise? That’s an impressive growth during a economic downturn. I know people say it’s Canadian teams, but it can’t be them alone.

  • vetinari

    Weber signing the offer sheet is a nice **** you to the Preds. Otherwise he would work with the team rather than back it into a corner.

    Next he will ask for a trade after the first year of the deal.

  • I’d match it for sure, provided ownership will put up the money. Tough spot for them, if Weber goes the team will be a shadow of its former self, which will decrease attendance and cost the group a ton of cash. They are screwed either way.
    You’d have to think there would be locker room issues because it seems obvious that Weber wants out. Can’t trade him for a year, so 1 year of Weber is mighty pricey.

  • Shapeman

    How can Nashville still have the opportunity to trade Weber when he had already signed an offer sheet? Are people suggesting that the two GM’s negotiate a trade on the side to properly compensate Poile? How can Weber still be part of a deal… This is confusing me.

  • Shapeman

    Poile is in a tough spot. I feel bad for him because he could have almost certainly recieved a better return from one of the trades he was working on. If the Preds have the cash to pay for the first four years then they absolutely have to match, because:

    1) There isn’t a better defensemen out there.
    2) Those picks will be almost worthless, given that Philly will be a Presidents trophy contender for each of those 4 years.
    3) The cap hit is about right for a player of Weber’s calibre.
    4) Having Rinne and Weber in your lineup ensures you are competitive for years to come.

    Gregor, does this set the bar for a guy like Pieterangelo?

  • KatzKidsJewFro

    Something smells fishy about this deal.

    If the cap hit is $300,000 less per year, the Flyers only have to give up 2 first rounders along with a second and a third. Is this Weber’s way of forcing Poile’s hand to keep him yet not totally screw his old team over if the Preds feel that the contract is too much to swallow? Why wouldn’t Holmgren find a way to keep the deal under $7.3 M cap hit and save his own team a couple of first round draft picks? Why wouldn’t Weber who is likely going to be with Philly for a looking time take a small decrease to help his potential new team stay competitive in coming years?

    Something about this deal just seems off.

  • KatzKidsJewFro

    Man, Preds are in a tough spot here.

    Gregor, when looking at your option #2 (Preds keep Weber for remainder of contract and build around him) what’s to stop him from pulling a Pronger after the first year? It seems obvious he wants out, especially considering what his agent said.

    It seems to me the only option Poile has is #3; to try and get the best return he possibly can.

  • KatzKidsJewFro

    So, what are the rules regarding Nashville’s ability to trade Shea to a team other than Philly? Is it possible for them to trade him to a different team, where they would match the offer sheet?

  • If they have the 27 million dollars to pay, most of it lump sum, then they have to match. 4 1st round picks is nothing when they will likely be in the 22 or higher range. Those Eberle’s that are available that low come few and far between a lot more misses.

    They only need to concern themselves with the first 27 million because after they’ve paid that they could trade Weber no problem for more return than 4 junk picks in the draft.

    If money is no object then naturally you just match the offer and call it a victory that you signed Weber to a lifetime contract (barring his eventual trade demands).

    It’s going to cost them 27 million dollars and 1 years time to trade him for something actually valuable. I say do it, but who knows how close to broke those guys run.

  • justDOit

    I think the players are smelling the coming CBA, with a lower cap due to the revised definition of ‘hockey related revenue’ and a smaller piece of the pie.

    So if Weber gets $27M over the next 12 months, and the cap goes down by $8M or so next season, he will cough up a lot of money to escrow payments. And if there’s no hockey next year, he still gets a pretty nice payday.

  • Take the 4 first rounders . Maybe then league will do something in earnest about these raids that are driving up the price for players , and contracting the market place for lesser clubs to remain viable in smaller markets . I’m surprised Burke has not lashed out at this as yet . Maybe this will be the norm and small markets squeezed out ? They might even form an international alliance and move dwindling small market teams internationally ?

    This practice , if it should continue to escalate , could prove disasterous for resignng our youngsters for a decent time and cost !

  • This is a no brainer, he has to match.

    Even if they deal Weber next offseason, any return in a trade is vastly better than 4 mid-20’s draft picks that take years to develop.

    Plus there’s a big difference in public/fan opinion between getting screwed over on an offer sheet than Weber publicly asking for a trade next summer.

    • You think they wanna fork over $27M to Weberin the next 11 1/2 months, and then trade him? That may be more costly than not matching at all. Got to work out a deal with Philly imo. Should be able to get Voracek or Schenn imo.

        • justDOit

          Wrong. How did Oil get Cujo? StL signed Corson. Comp was 2 1st’s (I think). Oil & Blues worked out a deal where Oil wouldn’t match & Blues would send Cujo & Grier to Oil in return for their picks back.

          Same deal here. Threaten PHI you’ll match if they don’t sweeten the pot.

          • Gerry Johansen a player agent was just on Oilers now talking to Bob and he stated that the deal is signed and whatever the compensation is in draft picks, is what Preds will get if they don’t match. He can’t be traded for one calendar year even to the Flyers.

          • paul wodehouse

            Semantics. They can’t match the offer sheet & then trade him. But they can threaten to match if PHI doesn’t take some/all of the picks back for roster players.

  • Tim in Kelowna

    @madjam

    Any GM that makes a decision that negatively affects your team, just to make a point, should be fired. I’m sure Chuck Fletcher wasn’t thrilled about handing out 200 million dollars for Parise and Suter, but his responsibility is to the team not to the game of hockey.

  • justDOit

    What happened last CBA with the rollbacks in terms of signing bonus? Is the deal structured this way so Weber gets most of his dough no matter what rollbacks happen/the Preds have no hope of relief on more than tehe $1 million “salary”? Any CBA nerds out there have an answer?

  • BrudnySeaby

    2010-11:
    Shea weber without Suter.
    10 Games played -9 in plus/minus.

    Weber has played 6459 min in last 5 yesars.

    285 min (4.4%)was a collection of lesser players who played less than 15 minutes a season with him.

    He played 5154 Min (80%) with Suter and was a positive player.

    The other 15.6%

    He played 370 Min (5.7%) with greg Zanon and was a negative player.

    He played 318 min (4.9%) with Boullion and was a negative player

    He played 201 minutes with Hamhuis(3.1%) and was a negative player.

    He played 126 min (1.9%) and was a positive player.

    Webber was a negative player 88% of the time without Suter.

    That is with some historically good Dmen.

    This is what makes me nervous about a suterless weber.

  • John Chambers

    @ RossCreek

    I agree with you. Philadephia may have thought that they were getting better leverage in their negotiation by signing Weber, but in some ways they’ve done the opposite. If the Flyers really want Weber they’ll have to pay Poile’s asking price.

    That price undoubtedly includes Couturier and Schenn, and possibly even another Schenn.

    • BrudnySeaby

      Not exactly. If Flyers figured Preds might deal Weber to NYR, they throw out offer sheet & that gives them an exclusive 7 day period to negotiate a deal with Preds. Flyers could very well be willing to give up more than four 1st’s, but just guaranteed that they’re the only team able to negotiate a trade.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Flyers could surrender 6 to 8 first rounders and it still wouldn’t be enough compensation for a player like Weber. Flyers are a top ten team for the next 8-10 yrs.

    The Predators need to match. Pekka Rinne,Weber and Rick Nash would help differ another step back to square one for what little fanbase there is.

  • NHL93

    Let him go, take the 4 first rounders.. that’s 8 1st rd picks in 4 years. You can move them for actual quality players to fill holes, or use them to draft for the future. Weber is a beast, but that contract will be an anchor around the neck of your team.

  • Michael

    The same old ‘NHL’ inequality, the rich teams structuring deals (legally) to take advantage of the poorer teams. Likely, you take the four first rounder’s and walk away. I doubt they have the finances to match the offer. I don’t want to move JBO, but if the Preds are willing to send some picks our way for JBo, Feaster will likely take them up on it.

    It’s beginning to look a bit like the NBA, the superstars only want to play for a handfull of teams. Make’s we wonder how a team like Calgary is going to attract a free agent ‘star’ to eventually replace Iggy?

  • NHL93

    What’s the benefit of paying signing bonus of $13M and salary of $1M rather than $14 million salary in each of the first two years? Is it simply that the signing bonus must be paid up front each year and would put the Preds under more financial pressure?

  • Jason Gregor

    In explaining the NHL’s rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract, this explanation was given on TSN’s website:

    “The current collective bargaining agreement states that a player who signs a contract before the age of 35 can retire and have his contract come off a team’s salary cap; however, teams must negotiate the contract in question in a good faith effort to have the player remain in the league for the duration of the contract.

    The current CBA explains circumvention as the following in section 26.3:

    (a) No Club or Club Actor, directly or indirectly, may: (i) enter into any agreements, promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind, whether express, implied, oral or written, including without limitation, any SPC, Qualifying Offer, Offer Sheet or other transaction, or (ii) take or fail to take any action whatsoever, if either (i) or (ii) is intended to or has the effect of defeating or Circumventing the provisions of this Agreement or the intention of the parties as reflected by the provisions of this Agreement, including without limitation, provisions with respect to the financial and other reporting obligations of the Clubs and the League, Team Payroll Range, Player Compensation Cost Redistribution System, the Entry Level System and/or Free Agency.”

    With the final three years of the contract being $1M per year when Weber is 38-40 years old, this offer sheet seems almost as questionable as the deal New Jersey was not able to put through. It’s hard to fathom Weber playing for $1M per year when he has banked $107M in the prior nine years.

    • John Chambers

      These will be interesting in about a decade. What happens when the player is in his late 30’s and still wants to play? Lidstrom made over $6M this past year while Selanne just re-upped for $4.5. Players like Weber and maybe even Kovalchuk might stick around and keep playing despite being paid a pittance.

      I suppose it won’t matter to either of them anyway at that point whether they play for $1M or $5M.

  • BrudnySeaby

    Well, all this speculation is fun but how it plays out depends on 2 things I guess:
    – Does Nashville have the money to match?
    – How is the relationship between Nashville and Weber (does Weber want out regardless of what happens in Nashville)?
    That will be interesting to watch the next 7 days…