a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

Welcome to Oil Acumen. What follows is a blog dedicated to ending the tyranny of Oilers management, and making hockey fun to watch again, dammit.

Friday, 5 April 2013

04/05/13 Shea Weber: What Would It Take?


The limitation that prevents the Nashville Predators from trading Shea Weber ends on July 19th. It seems completely crazy to trade one of the league's top defenseman, but stranger things have happened under lower pressure circumstances.



The Philadelphia Flyers made it extremely difficult for the Predators to match Weber's offer sheet. He was paid $1 million in salary for this season and also received a $13 million signing bonus. That salary plus signing bonus repeats in each of the following three seasons, payable on July 1st of each year, which means that in the first calendar year of the contract Weber will be paid $27 million by the Predators ($1 million 2012-13 salary + $13 million bonus on July 19th 2012 + $13 million bonus on July 1st 2013). Within the first four years of the deal he'll be paid $52 million.

To put that in perspective, the Predators spent $52 million last year on their entire team including Weber, and about $51 million the year before that. Needless to say, Shea Weber's contract is an enormous burden on Nashville's ownership, especially if they expect to ice a balanced roster. The $7.8 million cap hit is not especially prohibitive to their cap situation, but the salary is crippling.

But there's another reason that Weber could potentially be dealt, and it has to do with the player himself. This article suggested at the time of the offer sheet that the Predators were working on trading Weber before Philadelphia forced their hand. The price for signing him was obviously too high, but one has to wonder if he wants to go to a team with a chance to win. His new contract has made that a tricky proposition for Nashville since their spending is now quite limited. What's more, Ryan Suter has already bolted for Minnesota and Martin Erat's trade request at the deadline is a signal that players see that the Preds may need to start over.

So what would it take to get Shea Weber?

Even in a less-than-ideal situation for the Predators, Weber's value is ridiculously high. It's not that dissimilar to the Chris Pronger situation in Edmonton, where a stud number one defender requested a trade out of town. Despite the fact that other teams knew the Oilers had to trade Pronger, the return was quite a haul.

The Anaheim Ducks picked up Pronger on July 3rd, 2006 in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, defensive prospect Ladislav Smid, Anaheim's 2007 first round pick, a conditional first round pick (Anaheim had to make the Stanley Cup Final in one of the following three years), and a 2008 second round pick.

At the time of the trade Pronger was 31 years old and the Oilers had signed him to a five year, $31.25 million contract extension ($6.25 million per season). Weber is 27 years old and carries a $7,857,143 cap hit until the 2025-26 season, when he will be 40 years old.

Assuming a similar return for Weber as the Oilers got for Pronger, what could those assets look like? Let's look at them at the time of the Pronger trade.


Joffrey Lupul: Thanks to the lockout, Anaheim's 7th overall pick in 2002 was just finishing his second full NHL season in the summer of 2006, scoring 28-25-53 in 81 games and he had collected 41-46-87 in 156 games to that point of his career (0.56 points per game). He was fourth on the team in scoring in 2005-06, as Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf had yet to find their way.

Ladislav Smid: Smid was Anaheim's 9th overall pick in 2004. He came over from the Czech league and had spent 2005-06 in the AHL with Portland, where he got into 71 games. A top defensive prospect at the time of the trade.

Picks: The draft picks in the trade were expected to be in the bottom third of each round, and the conditional first round pick could be no better than 29th overall.

Like I said, quite the haul. So what would a similar deal look like from the Oilers to Nashville?

The Oilers would likely have no problem matching that kind of draft pick compensation. They've had success mining talent from the draft in every year since 2007 and the time has finally come for them to start winning. It's not as though the draft is now unimportant for the long term, but the Oilers will have to go all-in some time before Taylor Hall's contract extension is up.

As for the other pieces, there's a ready-made Smid equivalent in Oscar Klefbom in the Oilers' system. Sam Gagner (0.63 pts/g so far in his career) is perhaps the best match for Joffrey Lupul. This isn't an exact science because there's no way to know exactly what the Predators would want for Shea Weber, but it's an approximation based on the type of return that Chris Pronger commanded.

So would you make the trade?

Sam Gagner, Oscar Klefbom, two first round picks and a second round pick in exchange for Shea Weber.

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