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Monday, November 15, 2010

Shea Weber - Restricted Free Agent

Will Nashville Predators Be Competitive
Enough for Olympic Gold Medalist Shea Weber
Shea Weber, 6'4" 234 lbs 25-year old defenceman with Nashville Predators from Sicamous, BC (British Columbia) becomes an RFA (Restricted Free Agent) eligible for arbitration at the end of this season if Nashville does not extend his contract.  Nashville is meeting Weber's Toronto based agent while in town to play Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

Weber currently makes $4.5 mil.  What can he expect for a new contract?  Does he commit to Nashville?  Or, go to arbitration for a one year contract in order to become an UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent).  Perhaps, his agent will invite offer sheets from other teams.

Shea is one of the best NHL defenceman.  He plays an elite level that garnered him regular shifts for 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist, Team Canada.

He can expect at least $6.5 mil when you compare him to other defenceman of his stature as shown in the table below.  $8 mil is his earning potential on the open market.  However, he may have to agree to a front-loaded contract from another team to get more than $6.7 mil.

Negotiating Shea Weber's New Contract
Player Age Team Salary Cap Salary
Duncan Keith 27 Chicago
Chris Pronger 36 Philadelphia $7.600
Dan Boyle 34San Jose $6.666
Jay Bowmeester 27 Calgary $6.600
Dion Phaneuf 25Toronto $6.500
Shea Weber 25 Nashville $4.500

Nashville is one of the budget conscious teams in the NHL.  However, it does have the financial means to offer $6.5 mil to Shea Weber.  Nashville simply has to forgo resigning 36-year old UFA Steve Sullivan who is currently earning $3.75 mil.

Nashville maintains its discipline to adhere to its financial budget.  For a while, they kept an individual cap salary ceiling of $4.5 mil for their top players (Legwand, Weber, Arnott, and Erat)).  This seemed to change last year with the trading of Jason Arnott where he resigned for $4.5 mil with New Jersey and the losing of Dan Hamhuis of Smither, BC to free agency where he signed with Vancouver for $4.5 mil cap salary.

With the savings, Nashville signed free agent Mathew Lombardi for $3.5 mil cap salary and renewed contracts for Patric Hornqvist ($3.083 mil cap salary) and Pekka Rinne ($3.4 mil cap salary).  Perhaps, this tighter financial approach was in anticipation of renewing Weber's contract.

Weber may choose to go elsewhere in spite of Nashville having the financial means to provide him fair market value if he finds their budget too limiting for the team to commit to winning.  Ultimately, he must be confident in his current teammates and Nashville's farm team in Milwaukee.

If Weber was to pursue restricted free agency and invite offer sheets from other teams, only 2 of the 11 teams (listed in the table below) with cap space and budget have a history of front loading contracts.  In other words, it will be hard to get more than $6.7 mil from the other nine teams.  Nashville has the financial means to match these offers.

Cap Space for 2011-12 Season
Team Cap SpaceRoster Notes
Montreal Canadiens $25,313,691 9 Kostitsyn RFA Markov & Hamrlik UFA
Washington Capitals $22,240,428 14 Semin UFA
Toronto Maple Leafs* $20,613,334 13 Kaberle & Giguerre UFA Schenn RFA
Edmonton Oilers $19,400,000 14 Souray $5.4 mil in AHL
Los Angeles Kings $18,806,667 16 Doughty & Johnson RFA Handzus UFA
New York Rangers $17,550,000 13 Callahan & Dubinsky RFA
Chicago Black Hawks $17,014,497 10 Seabrook RFA
Ottawa Senators $16,512,500 15 Kovalev, Phillips, & Leclaire UFA
Detroit Red Wings $14,841,289 14 Lidstrom UFA
Vancouver Canucks $12,791,667 14 Bieksa, Sala, & Erhoff UFA
* Toronto currently does not have a third round draft pick for 2012.  Without one, it can only provide an offer sheet more than $7.7 mil which costs four first round draft picks.

Chicago and Vancouver are the two teams who have done front-loaded contracts in the past.  Chicago may not have the cap space to resign RFA Brent Seabrook of Richmond, BC if they provide an offer sheet to Weber.  Vancouver will have to lose UFAs Kevin Bieksa, Sammy Salo, and Christian Erhoff to free agency in order to pursue Weber.

Arbitration is Weber's best bet if he wants to leave Nashville.  He can expect a one-year contract close to his minimum $6.5 mil market value where he becomes an unrestricted free agent at its end.  If he chooses this option, you must wonder if Vancouver's signing of Dan Hamhuis was the catalyst.

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Post Script 16th of November 2010

Overlooked providing details on RFA compensation.  There are a variety of figures on the internet. has the most credible explanation.  You can read it at

Hopefully, Mark Easson posts an update for 2011.

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