“Around the NHL”: Weber Offer Sheet Situation, Pressure on Glen Sather

Las Vegas could probably get a betting pool together with odds set on which NHL free agent will be the proverbial domino, as in the one player who signs or gets traded that causes all other players and teams to finally act in the middle of what has been a very stagnant off-season. So far, we have had plenty of single dominoes, but no domino effect. Anyway, at least we finally have some major news to talk about, regarding the other star defenseman on the Nashville Predators, Shea Weber, and the little offer sheet situation he and his team are involved in. Let’s take a look at that, and more, as we go “Around the NHL”…

  • With Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s fates laid to rest, immediately rumors picked up on Shea Weber, a defenseman who is even better than Suter, in my opinion, and who would deserve more money. The only problem was that he is a restricted free agent, meaning he would need to be signed to an offer sheet with draft picks given up as compensation, depending on how much money he was offered by another team. The other option would have been for the Predators to simply trade him, something that they were obviously reluctant to do, because losing Weber and Suter within two weeks of each other could spell the end of their franchise as the heart and soul would have been completely gone. With quite a few teams in trade talks or contemplation over an offer sheet, the Philadelphia Flyers stepped up to the plate and signed Weber to a 14 year/$110 million offer. The Predators now have a little less than a week to either match the offer, work out a trade with the Flyers, or let him go off to the City of Brotherly Love and accept their first round draft picks for the next four seasons as payment.
  • Chances that the Predators will match the offer? Close to none. Apparently they have the money, because they were going to spend it on Suter, but Weber obviously wants out pretty badly, so re-signing him by matching the offer may create a Rick Nash-like situation for them, and no one wants that. The only difference in this hypothetical, nearly identical situation is that David Poile actually has a brain.
  • As a Ranger fan, it pains me to see the Flyers get such a great defenseman on the back-line, someone who will make that team even more intimidating and potent on the powerplay. It truly is a scary thought. Paul Holmgren has taken a chance here, but given that the Flyers will most likely be a top-ten finish every year, that loss of draft picks will not be too detrimental. I still believe that a trade will be worked out, perhaps so the Predators can get some roster players instead of all those draft picks. I would render a guess that if a deal is made, the Flyers will send Andrej Meszaros to Nashville so they can get some help out on defense. He is really the only option the Predators have if they want an NHL-ready defenseman, unless Kimmo Timmonen would waive his no-trade-clause to return to the team he spent the first eight seasons of his career with.
  • Weber’s cap hit is going to be a decent $7.8 million. The cap space the Flyers have right now is exactly that number, which makes a trade all the more likely. The players mentioned above that could go in a trade who definitely alleviate that problem: Timmonen is owed $6.3 million this season while Meszaros will make $4 million in each of the next two seasons. However, if you’re a Predators fan, I have a feeling that it won’t matter who comes in the place of two of the best defensemen in the league who have just been lost.
  • So, if the Flyers get Weber, does this put any kind of pressure on Glen Sather to finally pull the trigger on Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that it makes the Rangers need another star player even more, especially with Marian Gaborik going to be out until at least mid-November, but Sather also will not allow himself to be rushed. He will only make a deal that he is comfortable to make, even if his office was on fire and the walls around him were about to cave in. No one is going to out-wait or out-smart him, so we just have to remain patient. The Rangers did not get worse this summer, they just did not get better. The New York Post said today that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson plans on using the Weber signing as leverage to get a better deal from the Rangers for Nash. Yeah, okay Scotty. Keep dreaming.

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