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Dreger: Predators face financial gamble with Weber deal

Darren Dreger
7/19/2012 6:13:33 PM
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By virtue of signing a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers, restricted free agent Shea Weber has made it clear he wants out of Nashville.

The Predators have until next Wednesday to match the monstrous deal or accept four first-round draft picks and begin trying to fill the cavernous holes left by the departure of its top-two star defencemen.

General manager David Poile and the Predators were given a heads up that Weber would be signing an offer sheet and were given the chance to make a trade before the process was completed. Several other NHL teams made a pitch for the First Team All-Star, but the stakes proved too high.

The Flyers upped the ante on the offer sheet when it became clear that young stars Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn had to be included in a trade being discussed with the Predators.

At that point, the game changed and the Flyers launched their attack in the form of a 14-year mega-deal that will pay Weber $68 million in bonus money in the first six years of the contract.

Now the Predators are faced with a huge financial gamble.

With the threat of a work stoppage looming, Weber will collect a minimum of $26 million in the next 11 months. That's a staggering amount of money for any team to absorb with so much uncertainty. But for the Predators - largely a budget-tight team – that hit them both in the short-term and long-term.

That said, this deal might not make sense.

But  as difficult as it might be for Nashville's ownership to match, the Predators' franchise value will take another hit if its captain leaves.

It's not a stretch to suggest this predicament and pending decision may heavily impact both David Poile's future with the Predators, as well as his team's ability to lure players to the Music City in the future.

Darren Dreger

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