One way or another, the Shea Weber situation is about to reach some form of end game.
The Nashville Predators restricted free agent defenseman signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers reportedly worth $110 million over 14 years per Sportsnet.ca’s Nick Kypreos. The annual cap hit would be $7.9 million with $80 million out of the $110 million paid in the first six years of the deal.
The total contract is as follows: from the 2012-13 to the 2015-16 seasons, Weber will receive $13 million each year toward signing bonus payment and $1 million in salary; in 2016-17 to 2017-18, he will receive $8 million annually toward the signing bonus and $4 million in salary.
The signing bonus ends starting with the 2017-18 season, and Weber would receive a $6 million salary until 2021-22. In 2022-23, the salary scales down to $3 million for the season. The final part of the deal from 2023-24 to 2025-26 the salary reduces to $1 million.
The Predators have seven days to match the offer sheet.
What was originally thought to be a protracted scenario that could play out over the next season has now been whittled down to one week in July.
Predators general manager David Poile now faces an accelerated time table and an interesting dilemma. Match the offer sheet or let Weber walk and receive four compensatory first round draft picks. If he matches, he cannot trade Weber for one calendar year.
For Weber, the scenario is perfect for him because he will earn current unrestricted free agency dollars and years before the new collective bargaining agreement terms are negotiated. In either circumstance, he’ll end up on a Stanley Cup contender (though one team certainly has the financial wherewithal to stay there longer).
From Poile’s perspective, the offer sheet crystallizes what was once murky. He now knows what it will take to sign his team captain. All he has to do over the next seven days is say “yes”.
Signing Weber to a long term deal would be a massive “franchise-making” statement for the Predators, especially after losing Ryan Suter to Minnesota. They have specifically stated that they would match any offer sheet that would come his way. Losing both Suter and Weber in the same off season while receiving nothing but draft picks in return is not a feasible scenario for Poile.
However, the structure of Philadelphia’s offer causes some problems, specifically with the bonus. The money up front is a massive outlay for a team, as tweeted by Philly.com’s Frank Seravalli, was worth $163 million in 2011 per Forbes.
From Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren’s view, it creates more of a controllable situation than the Suter sweepstakes in that there are only two teams competing for the player’s services. It guarantees that no other teams will be in the mix for the perennial Norris Trophy contender in unrestricted free agency.
However, it is important to note that they cannot affect an NBA-style sign and trade scenario with Nashville over the next week, due to collective bargaining agreement stipulations as reported by NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman.
CBA 10.3 (a) stated “once offer sheet for an RFA has been received by the prior club, the prior club may not trade or otherwise assign its right of first refusal for such RFA.”
Hockeybuzz’s Bill Meltzer offered the possibility that the Flyers’ Chris Gratton offer sheet scenario from 1997 could be revisited with “a two- step trade.” In that situation, the Predators decline to match the sheet and receive the compensatory picks, then trading some or all of them back to Philadelphia for roster players.
Who would be in play in that situation? Anybody on the Flyers’ roster not named Claude Giroux. Philadelphia would likely look to include one of their current defensemen in return to prevent a numbers game at that position, but more would almost be included.
Two things are for certain. Shea Weber is about to become a very rich man over the next week and the NHL and the Players Association will be monitoring the developments closely.
More on this story as events unfold….
This could be the last video of Shea Weber representing the Nashville Predators in the All-Star game.
Anthony Mingioni covers the Philadelphia Flyers and the National Hockey League for Sportsology.
You can follow him on Twitter: @AnthonyMingioni or contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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