Wednesday, 1 February 2012
02/01/12 Shea Weber Offer Sheet
If there's one team that knows a thing or two about offer sheets, it's the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have had six of their own players signed to offer sheets since 1988, which is more than any other team in the league. And, of course, there were the two offer sheets tendered to Thomas Vanek and Dustin Penner back in 2007. But would the Oilers be interested in extending such an offer to Shea Weber?
As a pending Restricted Free Agent, any offer to Shea Weber cannot be less than his current salary of $7.5 million. If the offer sheet is for $7,835,219 or more, the team that tenders it must surrender four first round draft picks to the original team. In this case, the Oilers would give up four first rounders to Nashville.
That's a hell of a gamble for a team that has been at the top end of the draft for four straight years including this one. The good news is that the Oilers will already have made their selection in 2012 in this scenario, so if the team manages to be respectable from next season on the picks they gave up wouldn't be so high. Also, you could go through four full drafts and never find a defenseman that is as complete or as NHL-ready as Weber.
On the other hand, some of the Oilers' current depth is eventually going to either graduate or be moved on, which means that it will be difficult to replenish the system when lacking first round picks for four years. This isn't a practice that winning teams usually get involved in, and beyond that it may be unnecessary.
If the Oilers want to back a dump truck full of money onto a defenseman's lawn in the off season, they could always do so with Weber's teammate Ryan Suter, who is a UFA. Signing him would require no compensation for Nashville. The Oilers may want to keep that dump truck in the driveway, however, because contract extensions for Hall, Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are right around the corner. So too is a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the NHL, which could also have an impact on big money contracts and what is (and isn't) allowed. Failing all that, the Oilers could also wait until Weber enters unrestricted free agency himself, as it appears that he is unwilling to stay in the music city long term.
And if that's the case, it wouldn't make sense for Weber to sign an offer sheet at all. Does a contract exist that the Predators wouldn't match if they were given the chance? Probably not. The trouble with extending Weber seems to be the term, not the amount of cash he's after. Like Suter, the Predators' captain wants to make sure that his team is committed to winning a Stanley Cup. If he doesn't feel that Nashville is the place to win, he'll bolt for greener pastures. So with that said, why would Weber sign a long term offer sheet (which is the only kind that would be worthwhile) knowing that his current team could simply match it and lock him up for the long haul?
He probably wouldn't, and the Oilers almost certainly won't give him the chance. Neither will any other NHL team, as the whole league salivates over the possibility of another one year contract for Weber in Nashville and then a stab at him in unrestricted free agency.