While Nashville Predators fans consider whether any outside additions will be brought in for the 2010-11 campaign, a cloud hangs over this team that casts a shadow over any potential salary forecasts - the impending contract expiration for star defenseman Shea Weber, who is eligible for restricted free agency next summer. Now that he is officially in the final year of his current deal (which pays him $4.5 million annually), the Predators can pursue an extension to lock up big #6 for the long-term.
This has got to be the top item on David Poile's agenda at the present time. After all, does it make sense to fill in gaps on the roster, and then see how much money is left over for Shea? Quite the contrary, as he is perhaps the most important player in the organization, the Predators need to consolidate the franchise's foundation and build out from there. To get a quick look at the team's commitments going forward the next few years, head over to NHLNumbers.com.
So what might it take to lock up the guy who's widely expected to become the next captain in Nashville? Sergei Gonchar just got $5.5 million per season for 3 years, and Paul Martin got $5 million for 5 years in Pittsburgh. Weber is younger than both of those guys, and is perhaps more well-rounded. While not having captured any major awards yet, his skill and physical ability rank him among the elite defenders in the NHL.
So what do you think it will take, folks?