Slow NHL Offseason Suddenly Turns Into Shea Weber WatchBREAKING NEWS, Flyers, News Saturday, July 21st, 2012
As most of us (guilty) were tightly nestled in our beds, TSN Darren Dreger broke the news that the Philadelphia Flyers had signed Nashville Predators restricted free agent defenseman Shea Weber to an offer sheet. Per NHL rules, clubs have seven days to match (deadline is 11:30 p.m. ET July 25th) the exact tenets (dollar for dollar, tit for tat, as structured by the signing club) of the contract.
SportsNet’s Nick Kypreos shed some light on the details of the offer on Thursday. The most prohibitive part is multiple $13 million signing bonuses (for the next four years). This is up-front money that is NOT spread out on a monthly basis like salary. In the next year, Shea Weber is due a whopping $27 million, which includes a paltry (in comparison) $1 million salary for next season.
This is significant because if the Predators plan to match only to deal Weber at the first opportunity, they have a significant impediment. Namely, per NHL rules, they cannot trade Weber for the period of one calendar year. This means that the Predators will be liable for the aforementioned $27 million at minimum. So, would the Predators fork out $27 million in less than a year only to trade Weber? Furthemore, the Predators owe their goaltender, Pekka Rinne, $7 million per season through 2019.
According to a 2011 issue of Forbes’ Magazine, the Predators rank 25th of 30 NHL teams with an estimated value of $163 million. Moreover, Forbes noted that the Predators are seeking investors to infuse $25 million into the team, partially to offset a $75 million loan that was replaced by a $75 million credit facility.
With regards to what could happen over the next seven days, the Predators and Flyers could consummate a trade. To be clear, the trade would NOT be for Weber nor for Weber’s rights but a separate transaction altogether. Think of it as an incentive for the Predators to decline the offer by receiving player compensation in lieu of first round draft picks.
From a negotiating standpoint, Predators’ General Manager David Poile needs to convince Flyers’ General Manager Paul Holmgren that Nashville’s ownership is prepared to pony up to match the offer. Poile needs to determine how badly Holmgren wants Weber. Essentially, Poile could threaten to match, leaving the Flyers emptyhanded unless Holmgren “plays ball” and makes a side transaction. Potentially, the Predators could make an introductory request centered around BOTH Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn in exchange for draft picks.
The next five days have become the finals of the World Series of Poker as the Flyers have bought themselves an exclusive window of potential negotiations with the Predators. On one side, David Poile stands to lose team captain and fan favorite Shea Weber for draft picks if the Predators walk away from the Flyers’ offer sheet. On the other side, Paul Holmgren stands to lose Shea Weber (for nothing) if Poile matches the Flyers’ offer. If Holmgren believes that Poile will be unable to match the offer, he may “call.” If Holmgren believes that Poile will find a way to match but does not want to risk losing Weber, he needs to add more chips to the table.
Who will blink?
Who will lose?
Who will own Weber’s gargantuan contract by this time next week?
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