So…what if Nashville doesn’t match Philly’s offer sheet for Weber?

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The Nashville Predators are on the clock.

Late Wednesday night, it was revealed the Philadelphia Flyers signed RFA defenseman Shea Weber to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet — giving Nashville seven days to match, or let Weber go in exchange for a bounty of draft picks.

To some, the issue of matching is a no-brainer: Nashville must do it. Having already lost Ryan Suter for nothing, the team cannot afford to lose its captain and best player (both on the ice and in terms of public relations.)

But to GM David Poile and ownership, it might not be that simple. Philly’s front-loaded, bonus-laden offer could put the Preds in a financial bind — Weber’s set to make $80 million over the next six years alone.

Some ramifications to consider:

Draft Picks

Nashville would receive Philadelphia’s first round picks at the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 NHL Entry Drafts. It should be noted that Philadelphia has made the playoffs five straight years while averaging 98 points per season. If that keeps up, those picks would likely be in the 20s.

Blueline

As mentioned earlier, losing both Weber and Suter in the same summer would be catastrophic — they were Nashville’s best defensemen and two of the club’s better scorers (finishing fourth and fifth in points, respectively.) This isn’t to say the Preds would be bereft of talented rearguards, though. Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Kevin Klein and Jonathan Blum were all top-40 draft picks and Mattias Ekholm was named the Swedish league’s best defenseman last season. But it’s beyond optimistic to suggest any will develop to the Weber/Suter level.

Backlash

According to Capgeek, the Preds currently have the NHL’s lowest payroll and are $13 million away from hitting the salary cap floor. They almost need to spend money at this point (and hey, shelling out $110 million to Weber would be a way to do that.)

Poile also noted on a few occasions his offseason plan was to re-sign Suter, lock up Weber long-term and take a run at Zach Parise, suggesting he was ready to break open the checkbook.

That said, the contract is ridiculously front-loaded and would be an unprecedented amount of money for Nashville to pay a player. Case in point: Pekka Rinne signed a seven-year, $49 million deal this season that was the biggest in franchise history.

The first four years of Weber’s deal cost $56 million.

Regardless, it would be a PR nightmare if the Preds pass. There’s no calculating how hockey fans in Tennessee would react (one suspects poorly) and the perception of the team/franchise would take a major hit, both publicly and among players. What high profile free agent would ever consider Nashville after that?

Related:

Preds GM Poile issues statement on Weber offer sheet

Report: Weber’s front-loaded offer sheet worth $110 million, packed with signing bonuses

Report: Philadelphia, Shea Weber agree on a 14-year offer sheet

On the chances of Shea Weber getting an offer sheet

Canucks hint at shutting down injured Markstrom

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It doesn’t sound like Jacob Markstrom will play any more games for the Vancouver Canucks this season.

The 27-year-old goalie has been trying to recover from a knee injury suffered in the Canucks’ skills competition on Feb. 26.

“I don’t think things are great,” head coach Willie Desjardins said today. “We’ve got to make a medical decision on him.”

It has to be frustrating for Markstrom, who was hoping to challenge Ryan Miller for the starting job this year. The tall Swede played well at times, going 10-11-3 with a .910 save percentage — but in the end, he only made 23 starts.

“He’s a good goalie,” Desjardins said of Markstrom. “He can challenge for the number-one spot. Every time he goes in net, I’ve got lots of confidence in him. He’s left his mark this year.”

Markstrom is signed through 2019-20, while Miller is a pending unrestricted free agent.

It’s possible that the Canucks will re-sign Miller and come back with the same netminding tandem next season.

Oilers sign Walter Brown Award winner Gambardella

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Joe Gambardella, the UMass-Lowell senior that scored 52 points in 41 games this year, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with Edmonton, the club announced on Monday.

Gambardella, 23, captured this year’s Walter Brown award as the top American-born collegiate player in New England. He beat out the likes of Clayton Keller, Colin White, Charlie McAvoy and Tage Thompson for the honor, and joined a distinguished list of past winners.

Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey won the Walter Brown in ’16 and ’15, while Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau won it in ’14.

Gambardella is the first UMass-Lowell player to ever win the award, which has been given out annually since 1953. It capped off a nice year in which he also paced the River Hawks to the NCAA tournament.

An undrafted free agent, Gambarella’s ELC will kick in next season. It’s also worth noting that one of his UMass-Lowell teammates, defenseman Michael Kapla, signed with the Devils earlier today.

 

 

Coyotes to honor Cunningham for his ‘tremendous courage’

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The Arizona Coyotes will honor Craig Cunningham with a ceremonial puck drop on April 8 before their final home game of the season against the Minnesota Wild.

From the team press release:

Cunningham, who survived a medical emergency prior to the Tucson Roadrunners game on November 19, has made a remarkable recovery. Fans will have an opportunity to congratulate him on the tremendous courage, willpower and perseverance he’s demonstrated throughout his rehabilitation.

Cunningham was recently honored by the Roadrunners.

The 26-year-old’s hockey career is unfortunately over after doctors were forced to amputate part of his left leg due to concerns over infection.

True to form, though, he’s maintained a positive attitude.

“Obviously I miss playing every single day, and I miss the atmosphere around the locker room,” Cunningham said, per the Arizona Daily Star. “The guys have been great. From Day 1, they’ve been to see me every day. It’s been pretty incredible.”

Slumping Wild bring Eriksson Ek over from Sweden

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Well, this sure is interesting.

Joel Eriksson Ek, one of Minnesota’s most prized prospects, has been brought back to North America after spending the majority of this season playing for Farjestads in the Swedish Hockey League.

And according to the Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo, he might soon join the Wild.

More:

[Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau] said he didn’t know if the plan was to yet start him with Iowa or Minnesota, but I can’t imagine the Wild would recall him if the plan wasn’t to eventually have him in its lineup here.

In fact, he could be on the ice for Wednesday’s practice.

Sources close to Eriksson Ek say he’s flying from Karlstad to Germany to Chicago to here. Can’t imagine he lands and is put in a car to Des Moines, but we’ll see if they do want to give him a few games there.

Eriksson Ek, 20, appeared in nine games for the Wild earlier this season, and acquitted himself well offensively — two goals and five points. But by the end of his stint, he was reduced to fourth-line minutes and sat as a healthy scratch before the club decided to return him to Sweden.

Interestingly, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher suggested Eriksson Ek’s strongest attributes translated well to the NHL level.

“His small ice game is already so good,” Fletcher said, per the Star-Tribune. “Usually with Europeans, a lot of them have to acclimate to the smaller ice and have to learn how to be effective playing on the smaller ice. Joel’s already a very good small ice player. If anything, going back and playing on the bigger ice and handling the puck and making plays would enhance his long-term development.”

It’ll be curious to see if Eriksson Ek — the 20th overall pick in ’15 — developed the way the Wild hoped. He had 16 points in 26 games for Farjestads, and could certainly provide an injection of energy, something the club needs desperately.

Minnesota is 3-10-1 in March, and has fallen way back of Chicago for first place in the Central Division. What’s more, the Nashville Predators have surged to within six points of the Wild for second place, which is a stunning turn of events (on Feb. 28, the Wild were 15 points clear of the Preds.)

The Wild have two home games this week: Tonight against the Caps, then Thursday against the Sens.