Shea Weber arbitration choice - 1 year, or 2?

Twitter pretty much blew up this evening after TSN's Ryan Rishaug sent out the following message (since deleted):

Briefs have been filed by both sides in preparation for weber tuesday arbitration hearing. Weber camp will elect a 1 year decision.    

Neither side in the arbitration process is supposed to let details of the proceeding go public until after a decision has been reached, so it was interesting to see that the message was deleted by Rishaug shortly thereafter. It set off a lively stream of conversation, however, fueled with speculation about what this meant for Shea Weber's intentions. Would a 1- or 2-year contract really tell us much about his future plans?

Personally, I don't think it does. A 1-year arbitration ruling simply provides the maximum flexibility for Weber and the team going forward, leaving as little of their collective long-term future in the arbitrator's hands (where nobody wants it). Consider the ramifications:

  • A one-year contract would allow for contract extension talks to commence as soon as both sides would like. Under a two-year deal, however, they'd have to wait until next July 1 to sign a new deal (you can't sign an extension until you're in the final year of your current contract).
  • Since a club can only take a player to arbitration once in his career, under a one-year contract Weber could field an Offer Sheet from another club next summer, which would put the Preds in an awkward position (as they'd be looking to extend Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne at the same time), and give Weber the chance to cash in a year prior to becoming an Unrestricted Free Agent. While the chances of seeing an actual Offer Sheet are small, the threat is very real, and would give Weber a strong negotiating position.

From Weber's standpoint, to me it seems like a one-year term is the obvious choice. The leak almost certainly came from his camp, especially when you consider the likely connection between Rishaug and agent Jarrett Bousquet (both played for the WHL's Kamloops Blazers in the 90's).

Regardless of where that info came from, the expectation is still that a deal will get done before the hearing actually takes place. If not, it would certainly lead to direct questions about Weber's willingness to stick with the Preds long-term. The team has gone to great pains to clear up salary space (the Dumont buyout and Lombardi trade), and the word from the Preds' leadership has always been that signing the Big 3 is the priority.

So don't get too worked up over the choice of term here. If we reach Tuesday morning and we hear news that the two sides really face off in front of the arbitrator... then you can feel free to commence panicking.

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