The Nashville Predators retained Shea Weber by matching the Philadelphia Flyers’ 14-year, $110 million contract offer to the All-Star defenseman.
Weber, 26, has spent his first seven National Hockey League seasons in Nashville, where he is a team captain and was a finalist as the league’s top defenseman last season. The Flyers signed Weber, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet on July 19 and the Predators had seven days to match.
The Predators said that Weber’s contract is the “most important hockey transaction in franchise history” and had spent the week analyzing all aspects of the offer, from the economic implications on the team to the impact on the players who are put on the ice.
“Most importantly was the reaction to whatever decision the organization reached and the impact it would have on our fans, sponsors and marketing partners,” the Predators said in a statement. “It was absolutely essential that they understand and believe that we are doing everything possible to ice a Stanley Cup competing team each and every season.”
Nashville, which has made the playoffs in seven of the past eight seasons, this month lost defenseman Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild as a free agent.
Predators Chairman Tom Cigarran, General Manager David Poile and Chief Executive Jeff Cogen said in a statement that they concluded that Weber was the player they wanted to lead the team for the next 14 years and that matching the offer sheet was in the best interest of the organization.
They also said that failing to match the Flyers’ $110 million offer for Weber would have sent a negative message to players and other NHL teams that the Predators “would only go so far to protect its best players and be pushed around by teams with ‘deep pockets.”’
Weber had 19 goals and 30 assists last season as Nashville went 48-26-8 before losing to the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference semifinals.
Weber was awarded a one-year, $7.5 million contract through arbitration prior to last season and had become a restricted free agent after failing to reach a long-term deal with Nashville. He has 99 goals and 164 assists in his career.
“We were trying to add a top defenseman entering the prime of his career,” Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “With Nashville matching our offer, we wish Shea and the Predators all the best.”