After a season where the Nashville Predators looked like they finally had some pieces in place and were set for a deep run, you really couldnít draw up a worst start to the summer. After being ousted in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Phoenix Coyotes, things have gone downhill.
Already subtracting some offense in cutting ties with Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Radulov, the Preds watched star defenseman Ryan Suter walk to the Minnesota Wild for an absurd amount of money. Now the focus turns to Shea Weber, and it isnít pretty.
Weber and the Preds went to arbitration last year, but will not be doing so this summer. That leaves the Preds with a limited amount of what they can actually do with the restricted free agent defenseman.
As a restricted free agent, other teams can sign Weber to an offer sheet, forcing Nashville to either match the offer or let him walk and take the draft picks. If the Preds match the offer, they canít trade him at any point during the season and he can walk away to a new club, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
There are already a number of teams that have interest in Shea Weber, with the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings likely serving as two of the bigger players there. Either one could offer sheet Weber if heís not made available for trade. Even if the Preds match, it pretty much sends Weber to the market, unrestricted. And shows him that whatever team offer sheets him means business.
If Weber has no interest in signing a long term deal to remain in Nashville, the Preds could also end up looking the route of a trade at some point. With Ryan Suterís departure, it certainly seems like Weber could look to find his way out of Nashville as well, if they canít replace Suterís presence on the blue line.
A year before he can go unrestricted, teams are already beginning their posturing for Shea Weber. And things are going to get very interesting. No matter the way it plays out, Shea Weber is going to find himself a very rich man. After all, if Ryan Suter managed to pull $98 million from the Minnesota Wild, what do you think his better half is worth?
We could end up finding out very soon. And that might be bad news for the Nashville Predators.