Extend Commentary On Shea Weber's Contract Negotiations

I wanted to see if I could flesh out a comment I posted in response to a FanShot that the good Chris Burton posted over at OnTheForecheck. Here’s what Mr. Custance had to say in regards to contract negotiations between the Nashville Predators and Shea Weber:

"Fair or not, there's a growing perception that of the three biggest restricted free agent negotiations going on right now — Drew Doughty, Steven Stamkos and Shea Weber — the one least likely to result in a long-term deal is with Weber and the Predators.” 

Now, I am a practical person I can understand that negotiations are ongoing and Weber still has not publicly stated that he will resign with the team. It’s obviously a complex process that is still likely in its infancy, as both the team and Weber have stated their interests lie in playing hockey and not contract negotiations. Ok, that was just a qualifier so that no one thinks I’m going all homer because it pleases my ever-so-rosy outlook on life.

The crux of my problem with Custance’s quote is that it lacks a qualifier and it lacks substance. Simply, what does Less Likely actually mean? It’s an incredibly vague statement that fills words and creates a sense that something somewhere may be doing something. I could easily say that I’m less likely less likely to burn my record collection than I am to grill a nice piece of tuna with some fresh baby bok choy, but that statement doesn’t mean a damned thing. Now, I should try to steer things back into the realm of hockey relevancy.

The other two young stars mentioned in the quote are Drew Doughty and Steven Stamkos or the LA Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively. If we look at those two teams you see solid management, solid coaching, and bright futures with line-ups packed with talent. What reasons would talents like Doughty and Stamkos have for leaving teams that are going to be cup contenders if not now, then soon? The only things you could offer them would be stupid money or a nigh-certain promise to win a cup in the following season. Since in the modern NHL you can’t put any guarantee on the latter and the Kings and Lightning probably have a good idea about how to keep those two guys around for at least a few more years. All that leaves us with is how the Weber situation sits in comparison to the two that I’ve just discussed.

Weber plays for a team that is consistently a playoff spot contender that hasn’t shown that they can be in serious contention for the Stanley Cup. What you have then is an elite two-way defensive talent that has room to move to a team that is a more obvious contender, or, again, he could be offered stupid money. Weber may also be guaranteed to sign with the Preds, but the situation would suggest that he is less likely to do so.

Custance’s quote isn’t inherently false or misleading, but it is ambiguous. It strikes me as a journalist trying to drum up a story out of little to nothing. Not to mention what about short-term deals? I do wonder what kind of response he would get if the quote had run, as “Doughty and Stamkos are more likely to result in a long-term deal than Weber.”

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