It looks as though the Nashville Predators will be keeping their star defenceman Shea Weber.
The Nashville Predators have decided to pony up and match an offer sheet Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers that would see him earn upwards of $110 million over the next 14 years. NHL insiders speculate Philly is on the offensive to replace d-man Chris Pronger, and in turn create one of the stronger defensive lineups in the league.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren says he did not expect Nashville would come to the table with a counter-offer.
“I learned at about 3:15 yesterday afternoon, and the initial reaction was disappointment, but I guess we move on,” Holmgren said in a Wednesday morning news conference. “The chance of them matching was always there however hopeful we were of them not, it was always there, and they did. Now we move forward and see what we can do. We like our team; we think it’s a good, up-and-coming young team, and we will continue to try and add to it and make it better, which is what we tried to do with the offer sheet. We’ll move forward.”
For Nashville, matching Philly’s offer represents the largest contract offer they’ve ever put on the table. It’s stated in a Predators news release that Weber is wanted to lead the team for the next 14 years.
Weber, a restricted free agent, made headlines last year when he came out of an arbitration decision with a $7.5 million (US) one-year award, making him the highest paid defenceman in the league. In response, fellow Sicamous product and NHL blueliner Cody Franson suggested the decision may have come in low.
“”I still think he might be underpaid at that price…,” said Franson. “I’m biased, maybe because he’s a good friend of mine and I’ve known him for a long time, and I think very highly of him. I think if you go around the league, there’s probably 20 other teams that would have paid him that dollar, if not more. I don’t think you can say a guy is overpaid or not worth that when there’s that much want for him out there.”W
That the Predators would match the Flyers’ offer did not surprise Sicamous Eagles general manager Wayne March. With the team already having lost Ryan Suter, March says Weber, an Eagles alumni, is the man holding the team together.
“He’s the heart and soul of that team,” sayd March. “They’re starting to build a good frnachise there and the fanbase is coming back and if they lost him, as far as I’m concerned, it would just go down hill.”
March figures Philly offered the $110 million with the hope that no one, including Nashville, would be able to match it.
“Good for him – I think that’s awesome,” said March.
News of Philadelphia’s deal with Weber began making headlines last Thursday, less than a week after the Sicamous Shootout, Weber and Franson’s inaugural golf tournament/cancer fundraiser at Hyde Mountain. During the tourney, Weber thrilled attendees and local volunteers when he announced he would donate $50,000 of his own money to a disaster relief fund set up to help residents of Sicamous who suffered in the recent flooding.
While Weber’s potential, multi-million dollar deal with the Flyers had some sports news media commentators questioning the ethics of the offer sheet and, in some cases, the sanity of the NHL, response on the Sicamous Eagle Valley News’ Facebook page seems in line with Franson’s earlier view that Weber is deserving of a wage that reflects his being, arguably, the best defenceman in the league:
Chris Fraser writes: Not too shabby for a local boy. One of the top defencemen in the NHL! I hope Nashville matches the contract. Ugh to see him in a Flyers uniform.
Shauna Ploentzke writes: If anybody deserves this, it’s Shea! I’m so proud of him.
Patrick Bell writes: I’m happy for the player. Get what you can. But he NHL system is broken. Nashville and the other bottom feeder teams should fold.