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Shea Weber: What the Offer Sheet Means for Detroit

At least they're already acquainted.
At least they're already acquainted.

Why didn't Ken Holland sign Weber to a 14-year deal worth $110M?

That's the question being floated around right now in corners of Red Wings fandom. Is Kenny Holland asleep at the wheel right now? How does Paul Holmgren beat him to the punch in getting Shea Weber? The answer, as in most cases, lies not only in what we don't know about what has been offered, but also in what we know about the franchises involved here.

I want you to tell me, in nanoseconds, how long it would take David Poile to match this offer sheet if it came from Detroit. If you're not sure, go ahead and ask the fine people over at On The Forecheck (since I sure as hell can't).

Let's remember what we all know.

  • The Predators have told their fans they would be a team willing to spend to the cap.
  • The Predators have told their fans they would match any offer sheet for Shea Weber.
  • The Predators have no bigger rival than the Detroit Red Wings.

How many of those statements have to be lies for an offer sheet of that length to have been a good idea for Holland? Definitely the first two, right? Paul Holmgren's reasons for dropping this sheet are varied and he's getting a lot of credit around the league for having the balls to break the unwritten code in pulling this maneuver, but let's take a gander at what Paul Holmgren stands to lose if Nashville matches his offer.

  • Shea Weber's services

There. That's the complete list. Now let's take a look at everything Paul Holmgren has to gain if the Predators don't match:

  • Shea Weber's services.
  • Possibly some of his own draft picks (lost in compensation) back from a team that needs players, who have reason to deal with a team that needs to shed salary.
  • Preventing Shea Weber from being traded to the New York Rangers.

Finally, let's look at what Paul Holmgren accomplishes regardless of whether the Predators match his offer.

  • Shea Weber absolutely does not play for a division rival.

After the jump, we'll flip this over to Holland's risks/rewards

First off, let's play with the idea of a one-year mega deal to either force the Preds to lose him after one year or take 4 first-rounders to give him up immediately. I think given all the circumstances, I would prefer this route. However, it's also entirely possible that this was offered to Weber and he turned it down. Shea Weber has a lot to lose in the current CBA negotiations by signing a deal that's going to leave him a free agent in what very well could be a drastically different NHL free agent landscape.

If Shea Weber's option is to sign a one year deal for $14M or a 14-year deal for $110M, AND that one-year deal is probably going to mean he won't be able to get a $110M guaranteed deal in the future, it's not hard to argue that Weber would sign the longer deal every time.

So, let's assume that Ken Holland gave Shea Weber the same 14-year deal that Holmgren so bravely offered. Here's what Ken Holland loses if the Preds match

  • Shea Weber's services
  • Every restful night's sleep knowing that he signed the captain of a division rival to a 14-year deal for them.

Why would David Poile not immediately match this offer? Even if it's true that the Preds are more cash-strapped than they're letting on, they're only digging themselves into a deeper hole by telling the fans they're not poor and then letting their captain walk to their fanbase's most-hated rival. I'm not even going to toy with the idea of what Ken Holland gains if the Preds don't match because at that point, I might as well start listing off reasons Captain Planet would beat Santa Claus in a shootout. There is not a non-stupid reason for the Predators to allow Detroit to steal Shea Weber on an offer sheet.

In the end, Paul Holmgren pulled a savvy and clever move to make sure that either he got Shea Weber or one of his rivals did not. This deal means something entirely different to the Flyers than it means to the Red Wings. This is the reality of the NHL.