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Poile, Preds have huge decision looming on Weber

Thursday, 07.19.2012 / 1:39 PM / NHL Free Agency 2012

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Poile, Preds have huge decision looming on Weber
The Nashville Predators have seven days to decide if captain Shea Weber is worth a front-loaded, $110 million contract, or if four first-round picks is enough to let him leave for Philadelphia.

The Nashville Predators have only two choices -- match the offer sheet captain Shea Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, or accept the compensation.

They've got seven days to come up with a decision -- and a lot to consider before they do.

The offer sheet Weber, a restricted free agent, signed with the Flyers is reportedly a heavily front-loaded 14-year, $110 million contract. If Nashville passes, it is believed they would get four first-round draft picks from the Flyers during the next five years. The compensation package is tied to the average annual value of the contract offered.

General manager David Poile said in a statement the organization's intention has always been to match any offer sheet to retain Weber, but, "due to the complexity of the offer sheet, we will take the appropriate time to review and evaluate it and all of its ramifications in order to make the best decision for the Predators in both the short- and long-term."

FREE AGENCY 2012

Weber signs 14-year offer with Flyers

By NHL.com Staff
Nashville All-Star defenseman Shea Weber has agreed to an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Flyers announced in a Thursday morning press release. READ MORE ›

If the Predators match, they will be signing Weber to a contract with the exact terms of the offer sheet, which reportedly includes $80 million of actual money during the first six years of the contract. The Collective Bargaining Agreement also stipulates that if the Predators match the offer sheet to retain Weber, they are not allowed to trade him for a period of one year.

It would be the longest and richest contract in Predators' history, blowing away the seven-year, $49 million contract Pekka Rinne signed last season.

Earlier this month, Nashville watched Ryan Suter leave after he signed a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Minnesota Wild. If the Predators choose not to match the Flyers' offer sheet to Weber, they will have lost two of the top defensemen in the NHL within a matter of weeks.

Poile had been hoping to build a Stanley Cup contender around Weber, Suter and Rinne. Losing Suter was a blow, but if Weber ends up in Philadelphia the damage becomes that much worse.

Weber has been the runner-up in the voting for the Norris Trophy each of the past two seasons.

However, unlike the Suter situation, in which the Predators were left with nothing in return, if they don't to match the offer sheet to Weber they will at least be getting significant compensation from the Flyers.

An issue for the Predators to consider is the Flyers' pick has not been higher than No. 20 in the past four seasons. They had the No. 8 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, but that was a result of a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So, for Nashville it is all about weighing what they believe Weber is worth against the value of what could potentially be four late-first-round draft picks.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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