Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Pursuit of Shea Weber

I normally don't go around rumour mongering and panning for potential deals via trade. I usually know who the suspects are that would be available via trade but its usually a steep price that the Oilers cannot afford. Besides, no one really knows whats going down on deals until they are actually made.

This all brings me to the pursuit of Shea Weber. It's a multi-faceted pursuit but one that is very intriguing. Its a negotiation that is going to require a lot of finesse. Let me run down the specifics in point form.

- First off the Oilers are going to have to let Nashville know they are interested in Weber, perhaps there can be a deal worked out, so to avoid the offer sheet route. I don't know if the Oilers can part with any of the "big 4" or the newly acquired Justin Schultz and be any better for it. They could try and parlay, say an Eberle or a Hall, to get the deal done, but the Oilers wouldn't be as far ahead as they otherwise would be. I could see both sides butting heads on the trade route, eventually ending in a stalemate. Besides the Oilers don't want to be dealing all these assets for a player that is one year removed from UFA. Too risky, unless there can be a sign and trade that can be worked out, but I don't see Nashille wanting to put in the time to do that. I have the feeling Nashville would be looking for an Eric Lindros type bounty, at least to start with, it might wane a bit by the time trade deadline rolls around.

- All that, leads us to the offer sheet. If the offer sheet looms, it may scare Nashville into taking less in a deal. Nashville GM David Poile has been at this for quite some time, so I'm not sure if he will be scared easily into that. Losing Ryan Suter for nothing may give him second thoughts about potentially losing Shea Weber, and the Oilers have to be aware of this, but the Nashville isn't going to be goaded into a bad deal.

- Have to have some good intel and feel on how Nashville would respond to an offer sheet thrown at them. Term and salary are vital components to this offer sheet. I've seen rumour mongerers suggesting a one year, 12 million dollar deal, maximum money allowed under the salary cap. I understand the thinking on this, because it might be enough to have Nashville part with Weber, in thinking a short term deal would make Nashville walk away and take the the 4 1st rounders, but I think the Oilers get hosed in this deal. Not enough net to work with and in the end, if Weber decides to walk away from the Oilers in a year via UFA, then the Oilers still pay the 4 1st rounders, which is awfully steep and could put a total halt to the rebuild. It's a ballsy proposition to be sure from both sides.

- The key for the Oilers is to get a contract that is good enough for the Oilers without Nashville feeling compelled to match the offer. If the Oilers offer 6+ years, then Nashville will match and then the Oilers will lose out now, and a year from now when he was set to hit the UFA market. Then Nashville will truly hold all the cards even if Weber was to demand a trade.

- Like I said, a great deal of finesse is involved in this. Have to remain interested but can't get pushy. Patience is a key. Have to let Nashville know there is an offer sheet threat there, but going through on it, would likely end in disaster for the Oilers. Best option for now, is to hope things sour quickly enough between Weber and Nashville to the point where there will be an auction for his services. At this stage, the Oilers still cannot overpay for this player, not when he is one year removed from being a UFA and then everyone can bid on his services. Worst comes to worst, the Oilers would have to wait the year where Shea Weber could potentially be had for straight dollars. But at that point, every team in the league will be garnering his services.

- If the Oilers decide on a one year offer sheet or a potential trade on Weber, they have a year to re-up Weber to a longer term deal. I cannot stress this enough, but the Oilers would not be afforded the option of being awful next year. Oilers' management would have to break trend and throw life preservers to this team, each and every time its needed. Its truly playoffs or bust. But on the other hand, playoffs are a real possibility when it otherwise wouldn't be. If Weber sees a future with this club that might contain some bling, he might be inclined to stay. Otherwise it could be a Chris Pronger situation all over again, in where the Oilers are holding the bag again.

If Shea Weber comes to the Oilers for the upcoming season, it would be an intriguing season as a fan, but a gut-wrenching season as part of management. High risk/high reward to say the least.

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