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Predators chose to file for arbitration with Shea Weber, rivals unable to tender offer sheets

Jun 18, 2011, 12:58 AM EST

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Mere hours after it was announced that the Devils were taking Zach Parise to arbitration, the Nashville Predators has announced they are also filing for arbitration with their superstar defenseman Shea Weber. Unlike the situation in New Jersey, this decision seems much more procedural than anything else. The Predators management and Weber have both repeatedly stated their desire to get a deal done; the Preds want their captain for a long time and their captain wants to stay.  In fact, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reported that the Predators and Weber’s agent Jarrett Bousquet were working on an extension late into Friday night.

Whether the two sides are a day away, a week away, or a month away, this move by Nashville is simply to protect their interests.  All sides agree that he deserves a raise from the $4.5 million per year deal he signed three years ago. Bob McKenzie broke the news on TSN this evening:

Sources say the Predators did so in order to protect themselves from another NHL team making an offer sheet on Weber. Offer sheets are prohibited on RFAs who are being taken to arbitration.

It is now up to Weber’s agent, Jarrett Bousquet, to elect whether the arbitration is a one-year or two-year term. That decision, though, is not required until 48 hours prior to the arbitration hearing, which can’t happen until after July 20.

In the meantime, Bousquet and the Predators will continue to work towards a long term contract that can be arrived at any time before the arbitration.
They’ve been negotiating for the last two days.

Since a deal hasn’t been reached, filing for arbitration means he is off limits to any opposing general managers who were thinking about extending an offer sheet. For those Maple Leafs and Red Wings fans who have dreamt about Weber manning their blueline, they may have to wait a few more years.

Unlike the Parise situation in New Jersey, there won’t be the same salary cap restrictions dictating the terms of this contract. However, the difference is the internal budget that will shape this contract. Predators GM David Poile will be forced to negotiate a fair contract with his captain, knowing that his decisions this season will force his hand with unrestricted free agents Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne next season. Both of those deals have the potential to be much more difficult to complete simply because they’re both unrestricted—but the better Weber’s deal is for the team today, the better Poile’s chances for locking-up both Suter and Rinne in twelve months.

What would an arbiter say a Norris Trophy candidate is worth? In this case, neither side really wants to find out.

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