SHOULD POILE MATCH?

Shea Weber is smiling knowing that he will make $110 million for the remainder of his NHL career. That’s some pretty sweet financial security for Weber, but I wonder what Preds’ GM David Poile is thinking right now?

Does he match or take four first-round picks?

Some of the initial response is that the Preds have to match and that this could be a significant turning point for the franchise.

They match and secure their cornerstone D-man for the next 11 years (he won’t play the final three years making only $1 million a year) and make it clear they won’t lose stars to big markets.

This isn’t just about money; it is about whether the Preds want to tell their fans they will compete. I don’t like this message, but that’s how it is, and every fan base not cheering for a major market team better hope the new CBA outlaws these types of deals in the next CBA.

That Flyers offer sheet appears legal under the existing CBA, and Weber will cash cheques from either Philadelphia or Nashville. Nick Kypreos reported that it pays $14 million per season for the first four years ($1 million in salary and a mind-blowing $13 million in signing bonus.)

That means Weber is due $27 million over the next twelve month, and the Flyers are hoping the small-market Preds aren’t financially willing to pay that, and instead they will settle for the four first rounders.

The remaining 10 years of the deal breakdown like this, according to Kypreos.

Years 5 and 6: $12 million/year
Years 7-10:      $6 million/year
Year 11:            $3 million
Years 12-14     $1 million/year

CAN THE PREDS MATCH

The first question Poile has to be asking himself is if Weber is worth a $7.86 million cap hit?

The 14-year, $110 million offer sheet from the Flyers won’t hurt the Preds cap wise, but the first six years of the deal are a huge blow to their internal budget.

Can the Predators afford to pay Weber $80 million for the first six years?

Only the owners can answer that.

But what about Weber’s worth as a player.

Ken Holland never hid the fact that Nick Lidstrom made his job as GM easier. On most nights he had the best player on the ice, and he was playing 25-27 minutes a night. Sure the Wings had loads of offensive talent, but the one constant for the past two decades was Lidstrom.

Weber is widely considered the best D-man in the game right now. He’s physical, he’s mean, he can run a PP, he produces points and he’ll play against the opposition’s best players.

Last year when he was making $7.5 million not one person said he was overvalued. ( I don’t say overpaid, because everyone making that much to play hockey is overpaid).

The 2012/2013 cap is currently at $70.2 million.

In 2012 the cap was $64.3 million.
In 2011 it was $59.4 million.
In 2010 it was $56.8 million.
In 2009 it was $56.7 million.

Weber isn’t in Lidstrom’s category, but he isn’t far off. Lidstrom had a much better offensive supporting cast during his tenure in Detroit than Weber has ever had in Nashville.

In 2009 and 2010 Lidstrom made $7.45 million, and he was 13.1% of the Wing’s cap. In 2011 he made $6.2 million, 10.4% of the cap and last year his $6.2 salary was 9.6% of the total cap.

Weber turns 27 in August and it safe to say he should have at least five or six year left of being an elite D-man.

His $7.86 cap hit will be 11.1% of this year’s cap. Not an awful % when you consider how much he plays.

The challenge for Poile and the Pred’s owners will be absorbing the large signing bonus. Do they have the money to pay him, and then will they have the money to surround him with some good offensive stars?

Currently the Preds are $14 million under the cap floor, so they will need to sign Weber and still add another $6.2 million to get to the floor for next year.

They have Pekka Rinne signed for next six years, and if they keep Weber they will have a guaranteed #1 D-man for the same time period, however, the Preds have never developed any legitimate skilled forwards. Signing Weber keeps them at status quo on the ice, but will his contract limit them from improving?

OPTIONS

  1. Walk away and take the four first rounders, which will likely be in the 22-30 range every year.
     
  2. Match it, tell your fans you will compete, and be willing to spend more to find some offensive players.
     
  3. Try to facilitate a trade with the Flyers in the next seven days. (This trade would officially occur after Weber was officially Philly property)

I think option 2 and 3 are their best bets. The four late first rounders won’t pay off for at least seven years, if ever.

If they try and deal with the Flyers, they might be able to get some pieces that help right away and a few future picks.

Keep in mind that Poile was the GM of the Washington Capitals in 1990 when the St. Louis Blues offered Scott Stevens a four-year deal worth a combined $5.1 million. The caps didn’t match the offer and settled for two first rounders, which could turn into five first rounders if the Caps didn’t have a top-seven pick in 1991 or 1992.

The Caps ended up with five first-rounders: Trevor Halverson (21st, 1991), Sergei Gonchar (14th, 1992), Brendan Witt (11th, 1993), Alexander Kharlamov (15th, 1994) and Mika Elomo (23rd, 1995). It is clear they didn’t win the deal, despite having five 1st round selections.

I don’t see how Poile walks away and takes the four first rounders. He will either trade with the Flyers or pay Weber.

Reports are the Preds were asking for Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and something else prior to the Flyers offer sheet. I doubt they get that deal now, but they might get Couturier and Voracek.

I’d keep Weber and hope your scouting staff can find some young forwards.

It’s a tough decision either way, but based on this comment I’m guessing the Preds best option will be a trade.

Weber’s agent Jarret Bousquet said this regarding the Flyers offer sheet,  "I don’t think you would sign an offer sheet unless you were hoping to go to that team."

  • 2004Z06

    4 first rounders ,and tank their season like Oilers , and they will probably get Seth Jones or MacKinnon with their own pick alone . Not a bad start to rebuild in honesty .

    Bettman Our Saviour ? Can you imagine the astronomical costs staring us in the face if these type of contracts are allowed to continue into next CBA . Almost makes you hope our elite talents all have bad years before they sign a new contract . If they all excel we are going to lose big time and possibly get nothing in return like Preds look to be getting . Bettman – curb this lunacy and stick it to the owners (in their own best interests ) and the union both . Super greed on both parties is destroying the game and many franchises will fall as they cannot accept a parody solution .

    The cost of elites are rising astronomically , but those talents below them concurrently are also rising astronomically as well. Not a healthy situation and a widening gap between marketplaces which is unsustainable . Reel them all in Bettman !

  • vetinari

    If they extend the RFA period to the first ten years of service by a player (and as indicated in some news services), the league would be basicly using the newbies salaries to subsidize the older players.

    Think about it: as a player, for the first ten years of your professional career, you are tied to your drafting team and they only have to qualify you to keep your rights during that period.

    On top of it, if the entry level contract is extended to five years, your earning potential during this time would be just a shadow of what it could be.

    My point is, if Nashville accepts the four first rounders as compensation, those players may have more value than under previous CBA’s. That said, Nashville would still have to avoid drafting Robbie Schremp’s or Jani Rita’s with those picks to make them count.

  • 2004Z06

    Bettman will not “stick it to the owners”. He works FOR the owners, not the other way around. He can caution and cajole all he wants, but ultimately he cannot make the owners do anything.

  • vetinari

    To me, its a no brainer to me for Nashville to sign, even if its difficult from them from a short-term cash perspective. We don’t know what their financial picture is – do they have a line of credit to pull from? Do they have a call requirement by which the equity owners could be forced to kick in a few million more each? I find it hard to believe that an NHL team cannot find this money if absolutely necessary.

    Other things to consider.
    (1) Is Nashville getting some some revenue sharing $? If so, it helps cushion the blow when some of your costs are being paid by your competitors.

    (2) If the NHLPA has its way, Nashville will get more revenue sharing $$ in the new CBA, so their owners may be betting on getting some of the Weber signing bonus cash back in future years.

    (3) The NHL has shown more and more willingness to financially support struggling franchises in markets it wants to be in. Not saying it would do it with Nashville, but it might play into the team’s decision-making if the high cash outlays in years 1-6 are really an issue.

    (4) Its really only the $13M they need to worry about. The $13M for next July? That’s so far away in real life terms. There is going to be a new CBA, which could theoretically help them with revenue sharing money, with ability to raise capital, etc. Plus, they have the NHL to bail them out if they have a really crappy cash year.

    So unless they are unbelievably cash poor at this very moment, they have almost no risk in matching. Its a good *cap* structure. Its not a good *cash* structure. “Make promises now, figure out how to pay later” is a crappy business model, but the NHL has proven that its willing to support those crappy models for years if necessary. The future of the NHL appears to be that the needy teams will be able to cost-shift some of those burdens to the wealthy teams – whether by revenue sharing or NHL loans or otherwise.

    As for a trade, I think Poile has way more leverage than people are saying. Philly knows waaay more about Nashvilles revenues than I do, so it knows whether Nashville is likely to match. Its good management from Poile to kick the tires on trade talks and see how much Philly really wants Weber. Assuming Nashville has the cash to sign him, Philly actually loses leverage by signing him to the offer sheet. Now Philly has to assume that in order to overcome the likelihood of matching, it has to offer *more* in the way of a trade.

    Plus, Ed Snider has a pretty good guess as to where the CBA negotiations are going to end up, so he knows if this deal is going to be something could causes Philly some grief under the future cap structure. So Philly may prefer a trade to get rid of some current contracts/future costs. It makes sense to me that there would be trade talks, and I wouldnt be surprised if Philly was the more aggressive party.

    If I’m Poile, Im asking for a ridiculously good package in a trade from Philly, and if that doesnt work out, I match.

  • BurningSensation

    As a hockey move Poile should definitely match. The whole point of a draft is to find talent, and in Weber you have a prototype #1 D-Man. The contract pays him like one of the elite, his cap hit is appropriate, and he’s earned it. if you don’t keep him, you are also effectively saying that you will never have a star #1 Dman because you aren’t willing to pay the going rate for one.

    The only issue then is financial. Can the Preds owners afford the massive signing bonus owed to Weber over the next two years, or not? Yes, and they match, no and they let him go.

    Never feel bad for the owners. They built the system that creates these long term deals at the cost of a year long lockout, owners/gms are the ones who made the offer to Weber, and players are capped for how much they can make.

    This situation isn’t even about the amount of money Weber is worth (both teams think he is worth this deal), it’s about a big moneyed team raiding a smaller market team by taking advantage of their superior cash flow.

    Perversely, I also think these long term deals could be bad for the players. The NHL revenue stream has exploded in size since the lockout, and continued growth of the overall revenue pie means that a guy on 3-5 year contracts could cash in multiple times while Weber’s $ stay fixed.

  • BurningSensation

    I dunno why The Hockey Writers are so happy J.Brown went to the Canucks as compensation. He was a distraction more than anything. Boy I hate Phx and also now the ‘Raptors.
    AGW will mean more roller hockey. I don’t have a hockey championship Ring yet…
    I’d take the picks. I’m impressed by Carolina’s yo-yo model and by NJ’s one yr rebuild.
    If the Jets let Tkachuk Zhamnov and Teemu all go as RFAs, they would’ve had 20 1st rd picks over 5 years and their own picks would’ve been very high at first. I see it as a trade for Terraivanen, Grigorenko, Ceci, and Hertl, plus a right to swap picks next yr.
    The reason I don’t like keeping Weber is the length. Lidstrom, Chelios, Bourque, Niedermayer all started to tail off, not #1 Ds, by the last yrs of physical Weber
    ‘s contract. Poile was already GM? Explains how he setup the expansion franchise.
    It amazing how big the Shanny-Stevens trade was. He was the best PF in the game in 1998 while Stevens’s hit on Lindros essentially set the Eastern Conference balance for yrs, even to the present. I’m being upstaged as a fan. Who names their kid “Linden”?!

  • BurningSensation

    …it is sad Gretz would’ve grown up with a roller hockey rink in his backyard. The 4 picks is good NHL compensation. At 3, I’d’ve kept Weber. But the NHL might want to add a 3rd rder at $50M total salary, 2nd rd-er at $75M, 1st at $100M, 1st + 3rd at $125M…
    …I guess this all depends on which owners are willing to lose money. I see USA owners getting hit by neocon debt, but there may be more big Wang’s coming into the league as a cheappie N.American entry.
    If the NHL looked at the non-calls at Intermission, they could customize their reffing for 3rd period, for each team.

  • Mantastic

    …I guess if you assume Philly will be good, the compensation is Finn, Maatta, Aberg, Bystrom. Plus a $4M UFA for 14 years. At 7 yrs, Weber is definity worth more than the league max.