The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Nashville Predators RFA and Norris Trophy finalist defenseman Shea Weber to an 14 year, $110 million offer sheet. According to details that have been revealed, the contract has in the first four years a base salary of $1 million and a signing bonus each year of $13 million. The fifth and sixth year are $4 million base salaries and $8 million bonuses each year. Years 7-10 are $6 million salary and no bonus. As expected, years 12-14 are salaries of $1 million per year.
The structure of the contract allows for a $7.875 million cap hit per year, slightly above what the Predators paid Weber for this past season.
There are a lot of things to digest about this offer, which the Predators have 7 days to match. Here are some thoughts:
Weber could have told the Predators to trade him, that he would not accept any offer from his current team. I read this course of action as one giving the Predators every opportunity to keep Weber’s services for the remainder of his career.
That being said, one has to wonder about the tenor of the negotiations. Had they stalled or were moving at a pace that was unacceptable to Weber and his agents? If so, having his representatives accept an offer sheet would certainly move the process into warp speed.
By accepting offer sheets, it does allow Weber and his agents to define the market for his services. We now know that there is at least one team that is willing to commit a boatload of money up front to acquire this elite defenseman. Philly has defined the playing field for Weber.
The dollars and the AAV are within the reach of the Predators. The real question for the team is can they match the up front money? This is where Snider and the Flyers have the Predators at a distinct disadvantage.
This contract, in my mind, clearly delineates the differences between a deep pocketed owner and an ownership group. Snider has the financial horsepower of the Comcast system while Nashville has a group of owners who, while wealthy in their own right, cannot go checkbook to checkbook with an owner like Snider.
Which means the real issue in the upcoming CBA negotiation is how to balance the deep pocketed owners (typically in the larger markets) and their interests against those that are not so deep or in the smaller markets, or both.
And in the negotiating process with the NHLPA, the contracts to Suter, Parise, and the offer to Weber, have destroyed any credibility that the owners have by claiming poverty and needing to roll back player salaries. Not a wise move by the owners.
If Weber goes to Philly, I had better not see my Comcast bill go up.
So the clock is ticking for the Predators, and the outcome of this decision will affect the franchise for years to come. Sign Weber, and the message is clearly sent that the team is serious about contending for the Cup and attracting and retaining great talent.
Let Weber walk to the Flyers, and Nashville is relegated to also-ran status for years.
That is the stark reality this team faces.
About the Author: A native Nashvillian that grew up with minor league hockey, I'm now a devoted Predators fan and NHL follower. I have had the privilege of allowing my children to grow up watching the Predators and seeing the joy on their face when they are at a game. By day, I am a partner in an independent investment management company in the Nashville area. I played collegiate football and graduated from the University of South Carolina and graduated from the LSU graduate School of Banking. So yes, there are real true southern hockey fans in these non-traditional markets.