SHOULD POILE MATCH?

Jason Gregor
July 19 2012 01:02PM

Shea Weber is smiling knowing that he will make $110 million for the remainder of his NHL career. That's some pretty sweet financial security for Weber, but I wonder what Preds' GM David Poile is thinking right now?

Does he match or take four first-round picks?

Some of the initial response is that the Preds have to match and that this could be a significant turning point for the franchise.

They match and secure their cornerstone D-man for the next 11 years (he won't play the final three years making only $1 million a year) and make it clear they won't lose stars to big markets.

This isn't just about money; it is about whether the Preds want to tell their fans they will compete. I don't like this message, but that's how it is, and every fan base not cheering for a major market team better hope the new CBA outlaws these types of deals in the next CBA.

That Flyers offer sheet appears legal under the existing CBA, and Weber will cash cheques from either Philadelphia or Nashville. Nick Kypreos reported that it pays $14 million per season for the first four years ($1 million in salary and a mind-blowing $13 million in signing bonus.)

That means Weber is due $27 million over the next twelve month, and the Flyers are hoping the small-market Preds aren't financially willing to pay that, and instead they will settle for the four first rounders.

The remaining 10 years of the deal breakdown like this, according to Kypreos.

Years 5 and 6: $12 million/year
Years 7-10:      $6 million/year
Year 11:            $3 million
Years 12-14     $1 million/year

CAN THE PREDS MATCH

The first question Poile has to be asking himself is if Weber is worth a $7.86 million cap hit?

The 14-year, $110 million offer sheet from the Flyers won't hurt the Preds cap wise, but the first six years of the deal are a huge blow to their internal budget.

Can the Predators afford to pay Weber $80 million for the first six years?

Only the owners can answer that.

But what about Weber's worth as a player.

Ken Holland never hid the fact that Nick Lidstrom made his job as GM easier. On most nights he had the best player on the ice, and he was playing 25-27 minutes a night. Sure the Wings had loads of offensive talent, but the one constant for the past two decades was Lidstrom.

Weber is widely considered the best D-man in the game right now. He's physical, he's mean, he can run a PP, he produces points and he'll play against the opposition's best players.

Last year when he was making $7.5 million not one person said he was overvalued. ( I don't say overpaid, because everyone making that much to play hockey is overpaid).

The 2012/2013 cap is currently at $70.2 million.

In 2012 the cap was $64.3 million.
In 2011 it was $59.4 million.
In 2010 it was $56.8 million.
In 2009 it was $56.7 million.

Weber isn't in Lidstrom's category, but he isn't far off. Lidstrom had a much better offensive supporting cast during his tenure in Detroit than Weber has ever had in Nashville.

In 2009 and 2010 Lidstrom made $7.45 million, and he was 13.1% of the Wing's cap. In 2011 he made $6.2 million, 10.4% of the cap and last year his $6.2 salary was 9.6% of the total cap.

Weber turns 27 in August and it safe to say he should have at least five or six year left of being an elite D-man.

His $7.86 cap hit will be 11.1% of this year's cap. Not an awful % when you consider how much he plays.

The challenge for Poile and the Pred's owners will be absorbing the large signing bonus. Do they have the money to pay him, and then will they have the money to surround him with some good offensive stars?

Currently the Preds are $14 million under the cap floor, so they will need to sign Weber and still add another $6.2 million to get to the floor for next year.

They have Pekka Rinne signed for next six years, and if they keep Weber they will have a guaranteed #1 D-man for the same time period, however, the Preds have never developed any legitimate skilled forwards. Signing Weber keeps them at status quo on the ice, but will his contract limit them from improving?

OPTIONS

  1. Walk away and take the four first rounders, which will likely be in the 22-30 range every year.
     
  2. Match it, tell your fans you will compete, and be willing to spend more to find some offensive players.
     
  3. Try to facilitate a trade with the Flyers in the next seven days. (This trade would officially occur after Weber was officially Philly property)

I think option 2 and 3 are their best bets. The four late first rounders won't pay off for at least seven years, if ever.

If they try and deal with the Flyers, they might be able to get some pieces that help right away and a few future picks.

Keep in mind that Poile was the GM of the Washington Capitals in 1990 when the St. Louis Blues offered Scott Stevens a four-year deal worth a combined $5.1 million. The caps didn't match the offer and settled for two first rounders, which could turn into five first rounders if the Caps didn't have a top-seven pick in 1991 or 1992.

The Caps ended up with five first-rounders: Trevor Halverson (21st, 1991), Sergei Gonchar (14th, 1992), Brendan Witt (11th, 1993), Alexander Kharlamov (15th, 1994) and Mika Elomo (23rd, 1995). It is clear they didn't win the deal, despite having five 1st round selections.

I don't see how Poile walks away and takes the four first rounders. He will either trade with the Flyers or pay Weber.

Reports are the Preds were asking for Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and something else prior to the Flyers offer sheet. I doubt they get that deal now, but they might get Couturier and Voracek.

I'd keep Weber and hope your scouting staff can find some young forwards.

It's a tough decision either way, but based on this comment I'm guessing the Preds best option will be a trade.

Weber's agent Jarret Bousquet said this regarding the Flyers offer sheet,  "I don't think you would sign an offer sheet unless you were hoping to go to that team."

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 RKD
July 19 2012, 05:49PM
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The writing was on the wall for Nashville as far back as last year. With Suter's exit for Minnesota, Weber's impending departure was soon expected.

Nashville management, especially Poile knew this day was coming. It was only a matter of time before these two left.

Suter and Weber want to win a Stanley Cup. It wasn't going to happen with the Preds. Poile didn't do enough to solidify the forward ranks.

It's clear Weber wants out, matching would only keep a disgruntled player in the fold. Philly is closer to winning a cup, the biggest question mark is Bryz.

Hey Poile, what will you offer for Jay Bouwmeester?

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#52 Reidja
July 19 2012, 05:53PM
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There is is no way they should match. It's too high for the Preds and I don't think he wants to play there period. Be thankful you got something for him Preds

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#54 Reidja
July 19 2012, 06:18PM
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@Jason Gregor

Did you hear his agent's interview with J Shannon? Listen again for his response to "would Shae be disappointed if the predators match?". Read between the lines.

Comparing this to the Vanek case is a bit off-base imo. The quality of teams, markets and the deal itself couldn't be more different. Plus Buffalo management was so irate with the douchery of the Edm management of the day, they may have done it for principal alone.

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#55 vetinari
July 19 2012, 06:25PM
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Ask the Preds if they would have liked four 1st rounders , in hindsight, for Suter last year rather than lose him for nothing...

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#56 Oilcruzer
July 19 2012, 06:48PM
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seanjohn667 wrote:

does this offersheet signing further drive home the need for Tambo to lock up Eberle and Hall to along term contract ASAP? this may by a golden opportunity to convince the yound studs that they should get something done before the new CBA is in place, as they don't know how the landscape will look. I say Tambo should take this moment of uncertainty to lock the boys up for their entire 20s.

Nope.

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#57 OregonStateFan
July 19 2012, 07:17PM
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I think the bottom line is the Flyers are desperate for a cup. Will Weber bring them over the top? We'll have to wait a season to find out.

What I get out of this is that the CBA is clearly broken with long term contracts. How does any player manage to get ridiculous signing contracts like this? And skimming off the bottom of a players salary at the end of a contract doesn't make any sense. Limit contracts to 5 years. If you want to extend the contract before 5 years is up, fine, but the total contract length from that point (including extension) should not exceed 5 years.

Should top tier teams be penalized more than 1st round picks? Maybe? But what would you penalize them with? Soccer has transfer payments and maybe that makes sense to add into hockey?

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#58 Willi P
July 19 2012, 07:40PM
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If I am the NHL, due to the ongoing CBA negotiations, I would void this offer sheet saying it circumvents the salary cap, as it clearly does. Wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen, as much as I dislike the comish, he is certainly crafty and this would show that he is serious about getting these contracts in line as per his offer to the NHLPA.

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#59 Oilers4ever
July 19 2012, 08:03PM
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Definately not matching... Weber is good.. but that much cash.. sorry.. Lidstrom you are not.. clearly.. seeing you have no cups to your name. I'd rather have Doughty over Weber any day. Tough on the decision though... 4 first round picks could be huge... You could trade them to get better players... you could keep them and technically have 8 first round picks over the next 4 years.. could be could to build your team around. Personally I don't think this is enough to make Philly that much better. Dmen don't score goals... Philly had problems past the first round putting the puck in the net...I am definately not matching.. the trade if you get the right players could work, but I think I'd take the picks and use the freed cap space for next summer when bigger fish than this year will be out.

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#60 FireOnIce
July 19 2012, 08:48PM
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Somebody said something about Nashville being in rebuild mode - why would they be rebuilding? They just brought their team together and went further in the playoffs than ever before. Losing Suter and Weber is a huge blow, but it's not time to rebuild.

If I'm Poile, I'm taking the four 1st rounders. True, they might be in the 20-30 range each year, but what if you packaged them with your other first and move up?

Let's face it, Rinne is going to be pelted with pucks this season (if there isn't a lockout). The D-corps left over isn't that great - Gil, Ellis, Blum, Josi, Klein. Yeah, who? Their forward crew is lead by Patric Hornqvist, who fires 8 or 9 shots a net and can't even get a puck to bounce off him and in.

Point is, Preds will have a high first rounder next draft. Say 5-10. Package that pick with a #22 pick and move into the top 3. Take Seth Jones or Nathan McKinnon. Repeat for 4 more years.

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#61 JOFA
July 19 2012, 08:57PM
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Let him go Poile.

Sure, the Predators only get four mid-20's picks from the Flyers. But you have to look at what a Predator team without Weber (and Suter) does to their own picks. With their predictable struggles, he's now got four potential high first round selections, plus four late first round picks, plus another four high second rounders. Take it one step further, collect additional assets from a Rinne trade and those eight picks become even more valuable. The opportunity to orchestrate the mother of all rebuilds is staring David Poile in the face.

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#62 toprightcorner
July 19 2012, 09:02PM
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Preds should publicly ask the NHL to look at the contract to see if it circumvents the cap and if it is a valid offer sheet.

It would be in the owners best interest if the league not accept the contract as valid to protect them for each other. This is a clear case of a large market team taking advantage of a small market team, the reason why a cap was implemented in the first place.

For the good of the future of the NHL, I hope these ridiculous contracts will be eliminated. Every year of the contract should have to be the same amount in actual paid salary. I don't care the term, but if it is a 10 year $120 million contract they get paid $12 million a year, straight and simple.

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#63 PrairieStew
July 19 2012, 09:45PM
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toprightcorner wrote:

Preds should publicly ask the NHL to look at the contract to see if it circumvents the cap and if it is a valid offer sheet.

It would be in the owners best interest if the league not accept the contract as valid to protect them for each other. This is a clear case of a large market team taking advantage of a small market team, the reason why a cap was implemented in the first place.

For the good of the future of the NHL, I hope these ridiculous contracts will be eliminated. Every year of the contract should have to be the same amount in actual paid salary. I don't care the term, but if it is a 10 year $120 million contract they get paid $12 million a year, straight and simple.

Well, maybe not exactly the same every year , but there should be some limits on the difference.Let's say one year can only be 3 times as much as any other year. Think he is worth $9 per year now - then low years must be at least 3. What is clear is that this is not a 14 year $110 m deal - it's a 10 year $104 m deal. Not only is he not playing for $3m(let alone $1m) , what team in their right mind is keeping a $7.5 m cap hit for a 38-40 year old guy you are only paying a million to ? Buy him out and sign him again for less !

So the difference between the actual cap hit($7.5) and the real one ($10.4) is almost 3 million per year. So the Philadelphia Flyers are planning to circumvent the cap by $30 million over the next 10 years. And you guys want the players to take a pay cut ?

The rich get richer here too among the players - $12 m signing bonuses 2 years running ? How is it a "signing bonus" if he gets it more than once ? So if there is a lockout he gets it anyways - that's crazy.

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#64 leafnerd
July 19 2012, 10:24PM
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The leafs are losing Kessel if the CBA is not changed to restrict these kind of contracts

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#65 Oilcruzer
July 19 2012, 10:51PM
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leafnerd wrote:

The leafs are losing Kessel if the CBA is not changed to restrict these kind of contracts

The MM in TO has you fooled as well. Trust me, you needn't worry about teams lining up to make a huge offer sheet.

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#66 SmellOfVictory
July 19 2012, 11:36PM
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The DW wrote:

The new CBA has to have the players yearly salary be their cap hit. For example, next year Weber makes 14 million and that would be his cap hit for the year. Of course the players won't go for it because it eliminates these bogus contracts but the owners that sign guys to honest contracts have to make this happen. I don't get the signing bonus bs either as it clearly is meant to screw over Nashville so they should probably set some sort of limit there also.

Doesn't even need that. They just have to stipulate that any contract that includes a player's years beyond the age of 35 will remain as a cap hit on the team even if the player does retire. Or they could even make it half the cap hit. Point being, there would no longer be throwaway years on contracts, but they could still frontload if they wanted to pay out a player rightnow.

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#67 Reg Dunlop
July 20 2012, 12:22AM
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Should Poile match? No. He should, however, tell Holmgren that he will and then trade Weber to NYR next year UNLESS many juicy tidbits replace the 1st rounders.

Al Davis said 'If you aren't cheating, your'e not trying'. I wonder if it ever occured to Katz to supplement contracts of players he needs to keep by having Rexall pay them endorsement fees such as 2 million for a 30 second condom commercial on TV.

For the record, I think Weber's contract will keep whichever team he is on from winning the cup. Pronger he aint.

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#68 nuge2nail
July 20 2012, 12:40AM
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Oilers Domination to Follow

There is bad blood between Weber and Poile from the arbitration last year. Weber was looking for a 3 year deal - Nashville didnt get it done - no sympathy for them.

Nashville can trade Webers rights and let another team match the offer. If they match I believe they cant trade him for one year?

Would an offer of: Gagner, Hemsky, Smid, Omark, 2013 First, 2 2013 2nds and a 2013 3rd get it done?

We can replace Hemsky with Paarajvi if Nashville is looking to get younger, I figure Hemskys salary would be necessary as part of the deal for Nashville. We can also replace Smid with Klefbom, Omark with Landor, Pitlick or Hamilton.

I know some of you will say overpayment, and some will say we cannot get Weber without one of the top 6 going out. I like to imagine the coach trying to decide who not to play on the first powerplay between these six:

Hall, Hopkins, Eberle, Yakupov, Weber, Shultz.

Hall moves to 2nd line center. --Hartkainen Hopkins Eberle-- Paarajvi Hall Yakupov-- Smyth Horcoff Jones--

Than Sign one of Roszival|Kubina.

Weber|Petry|Schultz|Roszival|Whitney|J.Shultz-- Sutton|Potter|Fedun|Teubert|Plante|Marincin

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#69 muncho
July 20 2012, 06:42AM
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Who cares about Weber? Who cares about Suter and Parise? Who cares blah, blah, blah...

What exactly happened to all the BS we were told about how Tambellini was going to be agressive and improvments will be made. What the heck happened to all that hot air?

Once again Tambellini and Lowe have lodged their thumbs up their bu**s...all talk and both are on permanent dither mode. They have been busy pissing off Gagner though. They are expert at that.

Meanwhile all the sports reporting talking heads are talking about everythng but holding these donkeys accountable for empty promises.

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#70 Saytalk
July 20 2012, 06:52AM
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Just to clarify, the Predators technically cannot trade the rights to Weber. They only have two choices: match the offer or let him sign with the Flyers. I have never heard of a trade being done with the offering team after the RFA signs with said team (I'm not even sure the league would allow this), and Philadelphia would never agree to this unless they ended up trading away assets worth much less than the 4 first rounders.

Also to clarify, you usually can't package a middle first round pick and a late first round pick for a top-3 pick. It's one thing to make silly trade fantasies involving Hemsky or Gagner, but to hinge a major decision like this on a bunch of hypothetical trades that the other side would never agree to makes it far too easy to justify any decision. Late first round picks aren't worth as much as many posters are implying.

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#71 The Beaker
July 20 2012, 06:57AM
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@FireonIce

That's rebuilding.

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#72 madjam
July 20 2012, 07:16AM
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4 first rounders ,and tank their season like Oilers , and they will probably get Seth Jones or MacKinnon with their own pick alone . Not a bad start to rebuild in honesty .

Bettman Our Saviour ? Can you imagine the astronomical costs staring us in the face if these type of contracts are allowed to continue into next CBA . Almost makes you hope our elite talents all have bad years before they sign a new contract . If they all excel we are going to lose big time and possibly get nothing in return like Preds look to be getting . Bettman - curb this lunacy and stick it to the owners (in their own best interests ) and the union both . Super greed on both parties is destroying the game and many franchises will fall as they cannot accept a parody solution .

The cost of elites are rising astronomically , but those talents below them concurrently are also rising astronomically as well. Not a healthy situation and a widening gap between marketplaces which is unsustainable . Reel them all in Bettman !

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#73 vetinari
July 20 2012, 09:00AM
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If they extend the RFA period to the first ten years of service by a player (and as indicated in some news services), the league would be basicly using the newbies salaries to subsidize the older players.

Think about it: as a player, for the first ten years of your professional career, you are tied to your drafting team and they only have to qualify you to keep your rights during that period.

On top of it, if the entry level contract is extended to five years, your earning potential during this time would be just a shadow of what it could be.

My point is, if Nashville accepts the four first rounders as compensation, those players may have more value than under previous CBA's. That said, Nashville would still have to avoid drafting Robbie Schremp's or Jani Rita's with those picks to make them count.

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#74 2004Z06
July 20 2012, 09:20AM
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Bettman will not "stick it to the owners". He works FOR the owners, not the other way around. He can caution and cajole all he wants, but ultimately he cannot make the owners do anything.

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#75 PopsTwitTar
July 20 2012, 09:57AM
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toprightcorner wrote:

Preds should publicly ask the NHL to look at the contract to see if it circumvents the cap and if it is a valid offer sheet.

It would be in the owners best interest if the league not accept the contract as valid to protect them for each other. This is a clear case of a large market team taking advantage of a small market team, the reason why a cap was implemented in the first place.

For the good of the future of the NHL, I hope these ridiculous contracts will be eliminated. Every year of the contract should have to be the same amount in actual paid salary. I don't care the term, but if it is a 10 year $120 million contract they get paid $12 million a year, straight and simple.

In my view, there is almost zero chance the NHL would reject a contract going into the CBA negotiations.

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#76 PopsTwitTar
July 20 2012, 10:04AM
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To me, its a no brainer to me for Nashville to sign, even if its difficult from them from a short-term cash perspective. We don’t know what their financial picture is – do they have a line of credit to pull from? Do they have a call requirement by which the equity owners could be forced to kick in a few million more each? I find it hard to believe that an NHL team cannot find this money if absolutely necessary.

Other things to consider. (1) Is Nashville getting some some revenue sharing $? If so, it helps cushion the blow when some of your costs are being paid by your competitors.

(2) If the NHLPA has its way, Nashville will get more revenue sharing $$ in the new CBA, so their owners may be betting on getting some of the Weber signing bonus cash back in future years.

(3) The NHL has shown more and more willingness to financially support struggling franchises in markets it wants to be in. Not saying it would do it with Nashville, but it might play into the team’s decision-making if the high cash outlays in years 1-6 are really an issue.

(4) Its really only the $13M they need to worry about. The $13M for next July? That’s so far away in real life terms. There is going to be a new CBA, which could theoretically help them with revenue sharing money, with ability to raise capital, etc. Plus, they have the NHL to bail them out if they have a really crappy cash year.

So unless they are unbelievably cash poor at this very moment, they have almost no risk in matching. Its a good *cap* structure. Its not a good *cash* structure. “Make promises now, figure out how to pay later” is a crappy business model, but the NHL has proven that its willing to support those crappy models for years if necessary. The future of the NHL appears to be that the needy teams will be able to cost-shift some of those burdens to the wealthy teams – whether by revenue sharing or NHL loans or otherwise.

As for a trade, I think Poile has way more leverage than people are saying. Philly knows waaay more about Nashvilles revenues than I do, so it knows whether Nashville is likely to match. Its good management from Poile to kick the tires on trade talks and see how much Philly really wants Weber. Assuming Nashville has the cash to sign him, Philly actually loses leverage by signing him to the offer sheet. Now Philly has to assume that in order to overcome the likelihood of matching, it has to offer *more* in the way of a trade.

Plus, Ed Snider has a pretty good guess as to where the CBA negotiations are going to end up, so he knows if this deal is going to be something could causes Philly some grief under the future cap structure. So Philly may prefer a trade to get rid of some current contracts/future costs. It makes sense to me that there would be trade talks, and I wouldnt be surprised if Philly was the more aggressive party.

If I'm Poile, Im asking for a ridiculously good package in a trade from Philly, and if that doesnt work out, I match.

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#77 BurningSensation
July 20 2012, 10:39AM
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As a hockey move Poile should definitely match. The whole point of a draft is to find talent, and in Weber you have a prototype #1 D-Man. The contract pays him like one of the elite, his cap hit is appropriate, and he's earned it. if you don't keep him, you are also effectively saying that you will never have a star #1 Dman because you aren't willing to pay the going rate for one.

The only issue then is financial. Can the Preds owners afford the massive signing bonus owed to Weber over the next two years, or not? Yes, and they match, no and they let him go.

Never feel bad for the owners. They built the system that creates these long term deals at the cost of a year long lockout, owners/gms are the ones who made the offer to Weber, and players are capped for how much they can make.

This situation isn't even about the amount of money Weber is worth (both teams think he is worth this deal), it's about a big moneyed team raiding a smaller market team by taking advantage of their superior cash flow.

Perversely, I also think these long term deals could be bad for the players. The NHL revenue stream has exploded in size since the lockout, and continued growth of the overall revenue pie means that a guy on 3-5 year contracts could cash in multiple times while Weber's $ stay fixed.

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#78 The Keystone Garter
July 20 2012, 04:24PM
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I dunno why The Hockey Writers are so happy J.Brown went to the Canucks as compensation. He was a distraction more than anything. Boy I hate Phx and also now the 'Raptors. AGW will mean more roller hockey. I don't have a hockey championship Ring yet... I'd take the picks. I'm impressed by Carolina's yo-yo model and by NJ's one yr rebuild. If the Jets let Tkachuk Zhamnov and Teemu all go as RFAs, they would've had 20 1st rd picks over 5 years and their own picks would've been very high at first. I see it as a trade for Terraivanen, Grigorenko, Ceci, and Hertl, plus a right to swap picks next yr. The reason I don't like keeping Weber is the length. Lidstrom, Chelios, Bourque, Niedermayer all started to tail off, not #1 Ds, by the last yrs of physical Weber 's contract. Poile was already GM? Explains how he setup the expansion franchise. It amazing how big the Shanny-Stevens trade was. He was the best PF in the game in 1998 while Stevens's hit on Lindros essentially set the Eastern Conference balance for yrs, even to the present. I'm being upstaged as a fan. Who names their kid "Linden"?!

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#79 The Keystone Garter
July 23 2012, 02:17PM
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...it is sad Gretz would've grown up with a roller hockey rink in his backyard. The 4 picks is good NHL compensation. At 3, I'd've kept Weber. But the NHL might want to add a 3rd rder at $50M total salary, 2nd rd-er at $75M, 1st at $100M, 1st + 3rd at $125M... ...I guess this all depends on which owners are willing to lose money. I see USA owners getting hit by neocon debt, but there may be more big Wang's coming into the league as a cheappie N.American entry. If the NHL looked at the non-calls at Intermission, they could customize their reffing for 3rd period, for each team.

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#80 The Keystone Garter
July 23 2012, 02:23PM
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...I guess if you assume Philly will be good, the compensation is Finn, Maatta, Aberg, Bystrom. Plus a $4M UFA for 14 years. At 7 yrs, Weber is definity worth more than the league max.

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