Monday, 23 July 2012

Shea Weber gets $26M if there's a lockout, $27M if there isn't

One point which I’m not seeing discussed is that the $26M signing bonus payments in the first year of the Shea Weber contract offer sheet are payable by the team whether a lockout is in effect or not. That is, when either the Flyers or the Preds end up with his contract in six days, they must pay him $13M that day. Then, if there is a season, the team will have to pay him $1 million in salary, or not pay that amount of money or a portion thereof if the season is affected by a lockout. Followed on July 1 2013 with another $13M payment, whether play has resumed and revenues have started flowing again.

So the Predators have to evaluate if Shea Weber will be unhappy in Nashville, will he sulk and affect the rest of the team, or whether he can suck it up and be a pro like Joe Sakic did in Denver and Sergei Fedorov in Detroit when their teams matched offer sheets from other teams, at which point the contract is just a problem in terms of finding the cash for the first couple of years. It isn’t a problem in terms of the total amount, you’d be paying the going rate for a Norris Trophy candidate. This isn’t a Bobby Holik contract, it’s not overpaying for a player who probably doesn’t deserve this much money.
Then they have to evaluate whether they can pay out this much bonus money without revenues coming in, and in case of a lockout not being able to amortize it over the entire fourteen years the contract will run, barring early retirement. And as a small market team which is all in with Gary Bettman’s aggressive stance in bargaining, they may have insight and foreknowledge of the likelihood of a long work stoppage, and that may enter their calculation of whether they can match this contract offer sheet.

A way for the Predators to get out of this is to threaten the Flyers that they will match the contract unless they sweeten the offer, with the Flyers having to compensate the Preds with a better offer than the four first-rounders they'll currently be indebted to.  If the Preds can play this right, maybe they can come away with a Kimo Timmonen to plug the hole on the blue line for now, a Sean Couturier or Wayne Simmonds or Jakub Voracek and a couple of picks, they've set themselves up for now and for the future, and they have been compensated more fairly for arguably the best defenceman in the NHL at the height of his game.  The Flyers would then have done no worse than set in motion a trade that netted them the prize they were seeking at a palatable cost.  Theoretically, everyone would be happy could move on from there.

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