First of all, huge congratulations to the Boston Bruins on their Stanley Cup victory and a big shout out to Bonavista native, Michael Ryder on bringing the cup back to the rock. It was a fantastic series which we all enjoyed, but let’s be honest, once your team makes an early exit, all that’s on your mind is the offseason. Who are we going to draft? What guys will we sign? Is there any free agents that would fit our organization? For the Predators, these questions are even more important heading into this off-season. Read more after the jump.
This year’s pool of unrestricted free agents features lots of 2nd tier defensemen as well as plenty of depth forwards. It is however lacking in scoring, with the exception of Brad Richards, and top end defensemen. It’s for this reason that the RFA market is so appealing to teams this off-season. That and the fact that there has never been two defensemen of Shea Weber and Drew Doughty‘s caliber sitting as RFA’s heading into the summer. So what are the chances these guys sign, and if they don’t is anyone willing to throw out an offer sheet, giving away the farm to get them?
There is no doubt that Shea Weber is the heart, soul and future of the Nashville Predators. He truly defines the organization with his, gritty, no non-sense style. He’s their captain and guidance who has led this team to the playoffs year after year regardless of the lack of “talent” they brought to the ice. Now, as one of the league’s best defensemen and a finalist for the Norris, the man is due for a pay raise. The question is, will Nashville fork out the money to keep their franchise player, and does he even want to stay in the music city?
The Preds have had an internal cap for years. The organization runs on a shoestring budget, however they have been very effective in doing so. This team has a long term strategy in-place that will eventually allow them to compete with a payroll at the cap, but for now, the Preds have to work with what they are given from the owners, and this year’s first round win should give management a few extra dollars to spend. But is it enough to keep Weber around?
I don’t think finding the cash for Weber is the question, it’s more about weighing out the option that if Weber is offered the 7 million he is projected to get, would you be willing to let him go and take the two 1st, a 2nd and a 3rd round picks as compensation? Is there any team out their willing to part with some many prospects for Weber’s services?
The ideal situation here for Preds fans is that Weber signs for something around the $6.5M - $7M mark and demands that the Preds improve the team around him to be a cup contender in the near future. The extra money they save on not having to fork out the 8 million he is worth can be money well spent adding some scoring to this offensively deprived organization. Weber is not a guy that’s going to go for money, he wants a cup and to be a part of a promising organization, an organization like Nashville.
The one thing that does worry me here is that, with the Preds first round pick gone in the Fisher trade, all those draft picks might look very promising, If an offer sheet comes in above the $6,268,176 that gives the Preds 4 picks, including 2 first rounders, it’s going to be extremely tough to turn down. Are their teams out there that would have the cap space for this and willing to part with the picks for a guy like Weber at $6.5M? Sure.
Bieska, Salo and Erhoff are all UFA’s in Vancouver, what if you only re-sign one of these guys and add Weber? They have the depth. Maybe the Sabers are interested? They need someone to mentor Ennis and no offence to Leopold, but he just doesn’t cut it. And how about the Habs? They would love to have a solid number one to play with Suban if they don’t resign Markov.
The market this year is ideal for the Preds. There are lots of teams with money to spend and few players available in the UFA market. Nearly every team has an interest in a guy like Weber, however the picture will become much clearer come July 1st. Once we see who re-signs and who doesn’t, it will give us an indication of which teams may be willing to make a play on Weber.
There’s no doubt it’s a steep price to pay, and we have only seen one offer sheet accepted since the lockout, that being Dustin Penner in 2007. But if there is a player that teams are willing to give up that type of compensation for it’s going to be a guy like Weber. Young, talented, dedicated and hardworking. Hmm that kind of sounds like what the Predators organization prides itself on doesn't it?