Shea Weber

WeberWatch finally has some concrete figures as arbitrator weighs each side

For weeks months, the Nashville organization and their fans have had one thing on their mind: sign captain Shea Weber for as long as possible. As the season ended, both sides were adamant that a deal would get done; when the Predators filed for arbitration, it was merely a procedural move as they continued to negotiate with the face of their franchise. Fast forward two months and the tight-budgeted Predators not only reached the deadline with Weber—but they went ahead with a dangerous arbitration hearing with the Norris Trophy candidate.

What in the world could cause the two sides go through with the process that is universally regarded as a poisonous experience for both the team and the player? Money of course.

After the two sides were unable to reach an agreement without the help of an arbitrator, reports surfaced of the numbers being thrown around by each side. Both Elliott Friedman and Darren Dreger confirmed that the numbers weren’t even in the same ballpark—Weber’s camp presented a case that asked for $8.5 million for next season; David Poile and the Predators asked for a one-year deal worth $4.75 million. And people wondered why the two sides weren’t able to reach an agreement.

Some quick elementary math tells us the median between the two sides would put next year’s salary in the $6.6 million range. Not surprisingly, Weber’s case to make $8.5 million next season would be stronger than the Predators position at $4.75 million. If Weber were to make $8.5 million, he’d be the highest paid defenseman in the league and fourth highest paid player in the league. The numbers are high—but it’s easier to make than argument than to say he should make Kevin Bieksa money. He’s a better player, who is more important to his team, who is entering his prime.

Is Weber the most valuable defenseman in the league? Maybe. Maybe not. But he’s in the conversation.

Of course, the arbitrator will rule somewhere between the two extremes. Unlike Major League Baseball’s process that forces the arbitrator to choose one side or the other, the NHL arbitration process allows a judgment that compensates fair market value. Since the process does not force the independent third-party to choose an argument, both sides will negotiate to the extreme. Poile and the Predators don’t think that Weber is worth $4.75 million and it’s doubtful Weber’s agent thinks he’s worth $8.5 million. But within the context of the negotiations, both sides present their excessive cases and the arbitrator will rule in the middle.

Citing an NHL source, Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period says the final judgment will fall between $6.5 and $7 million—with Weber’s side presenting the stronger case. The source also added that arbitrators don’t like to set the market. Then again, somewhere in Los Angeles, Dean Lombardi and Drew Doughty are eagerly awaiting the arbitrators’ award. Not that this will affect the standoff in California and create a viable comparable or anything.

No matter what happens, the Predators lose in this battle. The last thing they wanted to do was to go through with an arbitration hearing with the most important person in their organization—let alone sign him to a one-year contract. For those keeping track at home, that means Weber, Pekka Rinne, and Ryan Suter will all be free agents next summer. For a team that is operating on a strict budget, this is the worst case scenario.

Now we wait for the arbitrator to make their decision between now and Thursday afternoon.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.