the Predators could match" face.
The Predators have the right to match the offer, but the contract seems to have been carefully designed to force Nashville general manager David Poile into an almost impossible decision. Does he let his best player walk away, receiving four first round picks as compensation but potentially devastating both the team's fanbase and its playoff hopes? Or does he match the offer, knowing the burden of the contract's first few years could put the financial health of the franchise at risk?
It's a tough call, and so far there's been no indication which way Poile was leaning. So since he still has a few days to make up his mind, I thought I'd try to help out. After talking to sources and crunching the numbers, here's my list of the Nashville Predators' pros and cons of matching the Flyers' offer sheet for Shea Weber.
PRO: The contract is front-loaded and doesn't call for Weber to be paid very much over the final three seasons, which is great since those will be the only ones actually played thanks to the lockout this contract will cause.
CON: The process of matching the offer may be confusing, since the section of the NHL owner's manual that covers dealing with offer sheets for star players simply reads "Remind the other team that we all got together a few years ago and secretly agreed to never actually use those".
PRO: The Predators have been receiving revenue sharing payments from the league's wealthier clubs for years, and Maple Leaf fans would probably enjoy seeing MLSE's money go towards signing a big name free agent for once.
CON: Weber has expressed a desire to play in Philadelphia and upsetting him could make life difficult around team headquarters, according to the janitor who would be in charge of cleaning all the David Poile face smears off of the windows.
PRO: Some of the picks the Predators would get as compensation wouldn't be used until the 2015 and 2016 drafts and probably wouldn't make their NHL debuts until 2018 at the earliest, which would be just in time to be part of an offer to Vancouver for their eventual Roberto Luongo trade.
CON: Um hello, the Predators can't even match the offer in the first place since apparently it's illegal for teams in the Central Division to make any major offseason transactions this year, according to confused Red Wing fans.
PRO: Weber is so well-respected among his Predator teammates that they're even willing to help him relocate, or at least we assume that's why Pekka Rinne has spent the last week hoarding moving supplies and googling "fastest route out of Nashville".
CON: Without Weber there won't be anyone left on the Predators roster capable of growing a top notch playoff beard, which seems like a problem until you remember that once he's gone they won't be needing them anymore.
PRO: Matching the offer would lock Weber under a lengthy contract, and having an unhappy superstar on a long-term deal is a great idea that always ends up working out just super-awesome according to Scott Howson, although come to think of it he did sound kind of sarcastic.
CON: It's only natural for the Predators front office and ownership to feel betrayed and even angry at Weber for signing an offer sheet, and there's really no better revenge against someone you're angry at than forcing them to spend the next 14 years living in Philadelphia.
PRO: Losing Weber could cost the Predators all of the die-hard Nashville hockey fans they gained during the last few playoff runs and that could be as many as four or five people, say Canadian hockey fans before laughing hysterically, high-fiving each other, and then muttering "What's a playoff run?"
CON: The massive contract could cause bad feelings among Weber's teammates, and that could become a serious issue a few years into the deal when the Predators can once again afford for him to have some.