Predators, Shea Weber gear up for possible salary arbitration on Tuesday

2 Comments

If Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators follow this summer’s pattern – a pattern that even maintained itself with similarly high wattage star Zach Parise – then they’re just going through the negotiating motions right now. The only case that actually went to arbitration was Chris Campoli’s, which really doesn’t count all that much since the Chicago Blackhawks were prepared to walk away from his award regardless of the amount.

That being said, today marked a rather important day in the process for Weber and the Predators. The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper reminds us that both sides are required to provide written briefs 48 hours before a scheduled arbitration hearing, which means that the Predators and Weber’s representatives must have done so this morning.

So, what does Weber’s side think and how much will the Predators argue for? Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck provided a hearty analysis of the restricted free agent comparables* for Weber, pointing specifically to where Dion Phaneuf ranked in the minds of many hockey people way back before he became so expensive that the Calgary Flames had to trade him. (Predators fans must hope that the comparisons will stop there, though.) Hoag thinks that the Predators might offer Weber $6.5 million per year.

When balancing out this list of comparables, I could see the Predators coming in at a figure of $6.5 million annually. While there are some aspects of Phaneuf’s performance that were superior to Weber’s during the years leading up to his current contract, Weber does benefit from additional factors such as his being named team captain last summer, and his growing star power around the league due to his performance at the 2010 Olympics and at the World Championships.

On the other hand, the fact remains that while he has been among the top defensemen in a number of areas, he has yet to take the top spot, which argues for keeping him below what Stamkos just received.

source: APPerhaps Weber’s side will fall on the higher side of many peoples’ estimates by asking for $7.5 million, then?

Buddy Oakes thinks that both parties will make a near-last minute deal with an average between $7 million and $7.25 million per year for four or five years, which seems like a reasonable compromise for both sides. Weber would get paid handsomely (but not outrageously) while still setting himself up for one more big in-his-prime deal when it would expire. The Predators would lock up the face of their franchise for a few of his unrestricted years.

It’s important to note a point we’ve been hammering on quite a bit lately: it’s not just about keeping Weber in the fold. The Predators are a budget team with three potential budget-busting players set for near-future paydays: Weber, fellow defensive stud Ryan Suter and Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne. Suter and Rinne would qualify for unrestricted free agency if the Predators don’t sign them before July 2012. Those two won’t be easy to sign if they keep Weber, but re-signing the team’s renowned defenseman would be a clear sign to the rest of the “Big Three” that they intend to be a genuine contender going forward. (Click here for a roundtable discussion regarding which of the “Big Three” might be most expendable.)

Now that you’ve read a few guesses on what Weber and the Predators think he might be worth, how do you feel? Should he just sign a one or two-year deal and make Nashville prove that they can compete? Should he take less money and more years to help the team build a stronger squad? Is he worth $6.5 million-$7.5 million or perhaps more? Let us know in the comments.

* – Want more comparisons that might put Weber’s value (and the tough negotiations) in further context? Jeremy Gover also provided his own breakdown at Section 303.

A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

Getty
2 Comments

William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

Getty
Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

3 Comments

The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

Getty
2 Comments

The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.