The Predators face some serious decisions regarding their pending free agents, notably Shea Weber and Joel Ward, plus updates on the Flyers possible off-season plans.
SPORTING NEWS/ESPN.COM: reported topping the list of free agents the Nashville Predators must re-sign is team captain, Norris trophy nominee and restricted free agent Shea Weber, who earned $4.5 million and could earn a raise over $7 million per season. ESPN’s E.J. Hradek suggested Weber could opt for a one-year extension which would take him to unrestricted free agency next summer. Ray Slover of The Sporting News meanwhile reported Weber didn’t sound like a player who was finished as a Predator in his post-game discussion with reporters following the Predators elimination from the playoffs.
THE TENNESSEAN: Josh Cooper examined not only Weber’s free agency status but also that of the Predators other notable free agents. He suggested Dion Phaneuf’s six year, $39 million contract is the standard for defensemen in Weber’s 2003 class, but Phaneuf is nowhere near Weber’s caliber. Cooper feels Chicago’s Brent Seabrook’s recent new five year, $29 million contract could be “a good starting point” in negotiations. Cooper doubts pending UFA forward Joel Ward, who earned $1.5 million this season, can replicate his playoff numbers (13 points in 12 games) in the regular season, but noted his all round play would make him a valuable commodity in the free agent market. Cooper also suggested if oft-injured forward Steve Sullivan wants to remain he’ll have to take a considerable pay cut from the $3.75 million he made this season, and pondered the possibility of the Predators buying out the final season ($4 million) of fading winger J.P. Dumont’s contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have detailed analysis of the Predators free agent situation and what they might do on my blog. I do believe they’ll re-sign Weber to a long-term extension, but the money it’ll cost to do that could hamper them from bolstering their scoring lines next season.
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi reports Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and his staff are mulling over whether they need to make a move to bring in a quality starting goaltender. Holmgren made clear Sergei Bobrovsky remains a major part of the team’s future. The Flyers have invested over $58 million already in next season’s payroll, meaning they’d have to clear considerable cap space if they were to pursue someone like Phoenix’s Ilya Bryzgalov, who is eligible for UFA status on July 1st. Carchidi also recently “tweeted” there’s no truth to rumors the Flyers want to move Mike Richards or Jeff Carter. “Not yet”, he cryptically wrote.
PHILLYBURB.COM: Wayne Fish reports Holmgren remains interested in re-signing pending UFA forward Ville Leino. The Flyers GM also dismissed suggestions of a rift between Richards and head coach Peter Laviolette.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Flyers want to bring in a quality starter like Bryzgalov and still re-sign Leino, they’ll need to dump probably up to $10 million in salary to get it done. If the Flyers do make a trade it won’t be Richards and I doubt they’ll trade Carter, though given how often his name has been in the rumor mill in recent years don’t be surprised if his name pops up again, despite his current 11 year, $58 million contract.