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Insider Only DePaoli: Ray Shero’s respect for Predators GM David Poile likely among reasons Pens didn’t go after Weber

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been actively coveting a No. 1 defenseman for months, but the team never became a serious player for defenseman Shea Weber, the premier all-around defenseman in the game. While the Penguins were believed to have been monitoring the Weber situation, the team was pretty much on the sidelines and never in the mix prior to Weber agreeing to a massive 14 year – $110 million offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Penguin management is of the belief that the best selling point to luring premier players long-term to Pittsburgh is to bring them in via trade and that once they’re here, they won’t want to leave. Weber fits the mold of a player that the Penguins surely would have been willing to take a chance on but whether it’s the respect GM Ray Shero has for Predators GM David Poile, they never did hold substantive trade talks with Nashville for Weber when the opportunity was there as the Predators were forced into trade discussions over the weekend and into the early part of the week prior to Weber officially signing the offer sheet with Philadelphia Wednesday night.
In addition to not aggressively pursuing trade talks for Weber, the Penguins did not entertain the idea at all of an offer sheet, which isn’t surprising considering the ties Shero has to Poile and the fact that he is believed to be against offer sheets for the most part.
Prior to last night’s developments, the Rangers, Canucks, Sharks, Red Wings and Flyers were the five aggressive teams pursuing Weber directly through an offer sheet, in addition to trade talks.
Weber also visited all five teams in the past two weeks, his agent confirmed.
Webers agent Jarrett Bousquet confirmed the Rangers were serious contenders for Weber, via “It {Philadelphia} just seemed to be a better fit than New York,” Bousquet, told on Thursday. “(Weber) is a small-town guy and (New York) is a huge city,” Bousquet said. “With New York, it was nothing personal. He thought everything, from the ownership to the hockey operations to the coaching, was unbelievable. (Philadelphia) just seemed to be a better fit at this time in his career.”
In speaking with NHL sources today, the consensus was that the respect Shero has for Poile and the Predators franchise, and knowing how losing Weber is going to affect that franchise in such a negative way, played a big part in the Penguins not pursuing Weber via trade or trying to even bring him in for a visit like other rival teams did. The sense from league contacts is that Shero wasn’t going to be the guy attempting to steal Weber away from Nashville because of the factors mentioned above and the main fact that the Predators were kind of forced into listening to trade inquiries because of teams aggressively pursuing Weber through a possible offer sheet.
The Flyers to no surprise, front-loaded Weber’s 14 year – $110 million contract so heavily with signing bonuses that financially speaking it’s going to be hard for the Predators to match, a budget team who banks on gate revenue and there now being worries of a work stoppage could make things even more problematic.
The deal has $68 million of bonus money in the first six years. The contract breaks down as follows:
*$1 million salary and $13 million signing bonus in each of the first four years, totalling $4 million in salary, $52 million in signing bonuses for a total of $56 million in first four years of deal
*$4 million salary and $8 million signing bonus in the fifth and sixth years of the contract, totalling $8 million in salary and $16 million in signing bonuses for a total of $24 million in years five and six, bringing overall value of contract through six years of $80 million, that includes a whopping $68 million in signing bonuses.
The rest of the contract rounds out with a 6 million annual salary in years seven, eight, nine and ten, followed by $3 million a year salary in year 11 and $1 million annual salary in years 12, 13 and 14.
While four likely mid to late first round picks are not proper value for a player of Weber’s stature, matching the deal is a huge financial gamble for the Predators that could cripple their finances due to the front-loaded money. The other side of the argument is that not matching the deal could cripple the fan base and such after already losing Ryan Suter and continued struggle to lure top players via free agency.
With the strong likelihood of the Predators getting a disgruntled Webber who could very well force a trade a few years down the road like Rick Nash is trying to do in Columbus, one side of the argument is that matching or not matching is a lose-lose situation for the Predators when you put everything on the table.
Weber signing the offer sheet was a clear signal that he wants out and Weber made that known to the Predators before signing the offer sheet. “I don’t think you sign an offer sheet unless you’re pointing in that one direction,” agent Jarrett Bousquet told TSN Radio in Toronto. “He would like to play with the Philadelphia Flyers because we all feel he’s just another piece in the puzzle to take them to the next level and he doesn’t want to go through a rebuilding process again.”
One theory in league circles is that Nashville does not intend to match under the assumption that they are able to work out a trade with the Flyers and turn one or two of the four first round picks that they will receive into an impact NHL player or two off the Flyers roster.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post is among those who believes the Flyers and Predators are working out that type of deal, writing:
“The Predators have seven days to match the offer sheet, under which Weber is due to be paid $56M the first four years of the deal, including $52M in signing bonuses ($13M per); and $80M the first six years of the contract, including $68M in signing bonuses (another $8M per). Regardless of official pronouncements, Nashville is not expected to match the offer sheet, under which Weber would be due $27M in the next 12 months under terms of the current CBA. Rather, it is believed that Poile and Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren are negotiating a trade in which the Predators would send at least two of the four first round picks the team would receive as compensation back to the Flyers for players off the NHL roster.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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