Last month, when the Predators were in Toronto playing the Leafs, the intermission commentators felt sure that Shea Weber would be gone from the Predators at the trade deadline or certainly by the July 1 free agency date.
To most Predator fans the idea was so totally preposterous that it was dismissed without a second thought. David Poile has consistently said that it was a deal that would get done and that there would be a new contract at some point. However, there is a possibility that it could happen and something the team could face in upcoming months.
Weber is a restricted free agent so the Predators would be able to match any offers that are made should a deal not get done before free agency begins. If it was an astronomical figure, the Predators would not mortgage their future for one player, not even their captain.
Last year's free agent class for defensemen was headed by Duncan Keith, who has far more offensive upside than Weber. He signed a 13 year deal that is paying him $8 million this year.
Keith is probably not a good comparable. However, Zdeno Chara ($7.5 million), Dion Phaneuf $7 million), Kimmo Timonen ($7 million), and Jay Bouwmeester ($6.6 million) are are all in a range that Weber could expect on the open market.
Weber is making $4.5 million this season and is ready for a contract where he can cash in and secure his future. So what if Weber doesn't give a home town discount and take something in the range of seven years for $45 million starting with $6 million in real dollars in 2011-12?
The reality is that it would not be the end of the world for the Predators. The team is blessed with two number one defensemen and Ryan Suter has improved every year. This year, he has risen to a new level when he has been healthy and has become a true leader on the ice. As far as actual defensive ability, Suter is Weber's equal if not even better at this point.
The Predators also have to look to the future and find places for Ryan Ellis (camp or mid-season next year), Roman Josi (camp next year), and Charles-Oliver Roussel (2012-2013). Another pair that may be in the mix in the next few years could be Jon Blum, who may be a late bloomer, and Mattias Ekholm who is playing in Europe.
I personally think that Weber is pleased with the Predators and was honored when he was named the captain. I believe that he will re-sign at some point in the range mentioned above which the Preds could afford with a new higher cap floor and improved attendance.
However, I also think that if the mood changed and Weber was lured elsewhere, like playing in Canada for top dollars, the Preds would survive without him. The Predators will do everything in their power to make Shea a Predator for years to come but they will not match an unreasonable figure if it comes down to that.
Weber's contractual status is currently like the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. If nothing is done by February, when the trade deadline looms large, there will be an increasing amount of discussion and possibly some action to match. We will all have to wait and see what happens.
In Pred Nation...
David Boclair has a story about Anders Lindback continuing the Predators tradition of finding star goalies out of nowhere.
Dirk Hoag has a video that asks who has been the biggest surprise for the Predators this season.
Josh Cooper has the leftover quotes from Wednesday's post game.
J. R. Lind takes a look at what a trip to the doghouse does for a player and uses J.P. Dumont as the example. Dumont really spiced up his story with the game winning goal on Wednesday.
Kevin Allen lists Marty Erat as one of eight X-factors in the playoff hunt in the NHL.
It's sad to see 3D Link's series on NHL color scales come to an end. Here is the wrap-up that has links back to the first two posts. I really found this interesting.
Jeremy at Section 303 has several thoughts on the win over Detroit.
Robby and Phillip went to the Kirkpatrick Community Center to help inner city youth learn the game of hockey. It appears that they had as much fun as the kids.
Admirals.com has a feature piece on Mark Dekanick which was one of the best netminders in the AHL before his recall a week ago today.
Mark Willoughby has his weekly "My View" which includes some an interesting point about news from a WikiLeaks release.
Rory Boylen has a good mid-season update on Preds' prospect and first round draft pick, Austin Watson.
NHL.com has a post about ex-Pred Ryan Jones finally making his mark in Edmonton.
The Fantasy Hockey Scouts are noticing a few Predators after Wednesday's game.
Around the NHL...
Tomas Vokoun shut out the Capitals 3-0 last night in a warm up before his return to Nashville on Saturday. Hopefully, he got it out of his system.
While the official NHL holiday freeze period doesn't start until December 19, Brian Burke started his yesterday. What does that really mean? Given the right deal, I'd say he would break it.
The Thrashers are forcing folks to notice them even if no one shows up at the games.
Adrian Dater tells the real story of why Matt Duchene joined Twitter.
Ryan Porth has vids of five great shootout goals. He also has more Matt Duchene news about his sophomore season.
Tim Rosenthal has part two of the nominations for the Rosie Awards with the Management portion.
It's hard to believe that they will have well over 100,000 folks go to tomorrow's Big Chill at the Big House yet not have a national TV provider.
Odds and Ends...
Here is an obituary for Email by Edward Moltzen. Personally, email has fallen to third or fourth place as a internet resource for things that interest me. Google Alert emails are the only thing that keeps it relevant at all.
Twitter appears to be in the cross hairs of WikiLeaks supporters as indicated in this story. Think how the nation's productivity would increase if they successfully shut Twitter down.
This is a timely article after a series of Tweets from Adrian Dater about a person invading his space on a Wednesday flight.
Interesting look at "runners" and "joggers" in the headlines.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass