The Nashville Predators have matched the huge offering sheet made by the Philadelphia Flyers for 3-time All-Star Shea Weber.
Having already lost unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter to Minnesota, the Predators made sure they kept their star defender when they decided to pay him $110 million over the next 14 years. Weber, 26, is the Predators captain, and made $7.5 million last season after winning in arbitration. He had 19 goals, 30 assists for a total of 49 points and a career best plus-21 rating. Weber has been the runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the top defender the past 2 seasons. He also helped Canada win gold in the 2010 Olympics.
The contract is the largest in Predators history and the second largest in NHL history behind the 13-year, $124 million deal given to Alex Ovechkin by the Washington Capitals. Weber will receive $80 million over the first six season which includes $68 million in signing bonuses, including an immediate payout of $13 million.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “With Nashville matching our offer, we wish Shea and the Predators all the best”. Losing Weber would have been an unexpected blow to a defense-first team that had 104 points last season. On November 3, 2011, the Predators signed their goaltender Pekka Rinne to a seven-year, $49 million extension, rewarding their starting goaltender of the previous three years to solidify the teams defensive cornerstone. The Predators said they wanted to send a message to their fans.
“It was absolutely essential that they understood and believe that we are doing everything possible to ice a Stanley Cup competing team each and every season”.