Why it seems unlikely that the Nashville Predators would trade Shea Weber

It’s (an understandable) dream of Oilers fans to see Shea Weber traded to Edmonton. Not only is he from Western Canada, big, strong and capable, but he’d fill the #1 defenceman hole that Edmonton has had since Chris Pronger left town.

Those dreams seem destined to go unfulfilled.

Get Used To Disappointment

Why would Nashville trade one of the league’s precious few franchise defenders? The answer always seems to be “they’re a small market club and they can’t afford him.” By their actions, though, it seems clear that the Predators have decided they can’t afford not to pay him.

The Economics of a Trade

Shea Weber signed his current contract – via a Philadelphia Flyers offer sheet – on July 19, 2012, forcing the Predators to either match and hang on to Weber for at least a year, or decline to match and accept four first-round picks in exchange for Weber’s services. The Flyers made it as difficult as possible for Nashville by structuring the contract to be extremely front-loaded.

No NHL player made more money in 2012-13 than Weber. More than that, Weber’s contract is structured to be heavily bonus-intensive – featuring a $1 million base salary and a $13 million signing bonus for each of the first four years. The signing bonuses mean that by the time Weber could be traded by the Predators, they will have paid $27 million of the $110 million on his contract – just slightly under one-quarter of his total contract in the first year.

Facing a $110 million decision, one has to think the Predators weighed the cost. None of these ramifications were unknown at the time; the Predators knew what they were getting into matching that offer sheet. If it made sense to sign him then, it’s hard to imagine they’re going to change their mind and move him after having already taken the worst lumps.

Certainly that’s the message general manager David Poile has always emphasized – asked about the possibility of a trade by CBC’s Elliotte Friedman in April, he made no secret as to his view:

We have a franchise goaltender and the best defenceman in the NHL … We are building our team around them.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: either the Predators made a terrible mistake, Poile’s being disingenuous, and the team plans to try and get a better return than four first round picks after spending $27 million for 48 games or they really have no plans to trade Weber. The latter seems more likely to be reality than the former. None of that means the Oilers shouldn’t ask, but it does mean not much is likely to come of it. 

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  • jonnyquixote

    Because they’ve benefited heavily (cap wise) from Weber’s front-loaded contract, if Weber retires before it’s completed, wouldn’t the Predators risk being severely punished with dead cap space under the CBA’s new rules? If so, they might need to hang onto him for the bulk of that deal to protect themselves.

  • 719

    I should have added this to my original idea:

    In real dollars to buy out Lecavlier is 1.95 million over 12 years, because his contract was so front loaded. (35 million left on the contract x 2/3 over double length on the contract). Yes that is a lot of money I agree, but weren’t we supposed to be a high spending team? It would basically cost us 21 million to move up 4 spots in the draft (when you subtract the belanger contract) and doesn’t cost us anything on the cap.

  • djc

    Do you have anything else in your life besides trying to point out Oiler faults? This article posted at 9AM and you have commented all throughout the day. I didn’t bother counting but just noticed i was skipping over your name even more than usual. What exactly are you trying to prove? That you are smarter than everyone? A better scout than anyone the oilers have? That the teams you pick are awesome making you awesome too? Do you want an internet trophy? A gift card to Oodle Noodle? A pat on the head?

    I honestly don’t know how you have the time to do this all day, every single day on every single oilers article? Do you not have ANYTHING else in your life … a job … a family … friends? Did the Oilers turn you down for a job? Did Gagner bang your girlfriend? Why so much anger? How does an article about Weber even turn into complaining about drafting Gagner 6 years ago?

    You can point out all the facts you want and call everyone fanboys, but you really need to get something else in your life besides posting obsessively about a team you don’t even like. Katz, Lowe, Mactavish, Gagner, etc don’t care what you think and neither do most of the people who log on to the site for 5 minutes a day to catch up on some Oilers news.

    If your goal is just to irritate people, well then good job since now I am irritated that I just wasted 5 minutes of my life writing this …

  • First off Valeri Nichushkin will not be a Lucic, he’s going to be far better hockey player with far less aggression.

    Although I like the idea of the Oilers draft Nichushkin as he is a elite prospect and a much needed size on the LW.

    Trouble is he is sighed to a KHL contract for an additional two years.

    He will not be coming over and could fall completely out of the first round.

    You would be better off trying to trade for Kuznetsov who also wont be coming over.