And so, now the hockey world eyeballs Shea Weber and wonders what the big guy will do.
My ESPN The Magazine colleague Craig Custance did a great job breaking that down Wednesday. A restricted free agent, the Nashville Predators captain will be a major storyline all summer long, regardless of his decision in the wake of Ryan Suter's departure.
"He's still in disbelief," Kevin Epp, one of Weber’s agents at Titan Sports Management, told ESPN.com Thursday. "They were so close this year in terms of the team’s chances. They really had a shot. Shea believed there was a good chance that Ryan would stay there. So right now, Shea is still processing this news."
At this point, anything remains possible. Weber could conclude that the Predators are still contenders, especially depending on what they do to replace Suter, and maybe Weber does sign a long-term deal this summer.
Or after further pondering, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist might instead come to the realization that it’s time to move and turn down any long-term offers from the Preds. That, of course, would likely force Nashville’s hand on a trade.
Then there’s the whole offer sheet business ...
But at this point, no such decision has been made either way. The Suter news is too fresh.
"We’re not in any hurry," Epp said. "There’s no deadline to this. We’ll take our time and figure out the right thing to do."
• Don’t be surprised if the Red Wings come calling on Phoenix for Keith Yandle after losing out on Suter, but I’m not sure there’s a fit there. For starters, it would take a strong offer for the Coyotes to move Yandle, especially given that the money handed out to defensemen over the past week or so makes Yandle’s contract suddenly look like a bargain. Yandle has four more years at a $5.25 million cap hit, less than what Matt Carle signed for in Tampa on Wednesday night ($5.5 million average salary) and the same as what Dennis Wideman ($5.25 million AAV) got in Calgary. I like Wideman and Carle (I think Carle in particular has always been underrated), but they’re not Yandle.
However, if the Coyotes get a serious enough offer for Yandle, my guess is they’d rather move him to the Eastern Conference, where several teams have been nibbling already.
With Carle gone, the unrestricted free-agent market for defensemen thins out in a hurry. The best bet would be Carlo Colaiacovo. Detroit and Nashville would be among several clubs to have some level of interest. He’s a good puck-mover and solid character guy.
• The Penguins struck out on Zach Parise and Suter, yes, but let's settle the facts here. Pittsburgh did not trade Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek on draft weekend with the specific purpose of clearing cap space to lure Parise/Suter. Of course, the Pens were going to try to sign the star-studded UFA duo, but knowing the competition for the pair they didn’t hang their entire offseason plan on it. First of all, they never intended on dealing Staal. They really wanted to sign him long term (hence the 10-year, $60 million offer to him), but they were forced to deal him. That wasn’t part of the plan. It was always understood within the front-office walls in Pittsburgh that either Michalek or Paul Martin would be moved to allow one of the many young D-men in the organization to have a shot on the big team, whether that’s Simon Despres, Joe Morrow, Brian Strait, Roberto Bortuzzo or Scott Harrington. As is stands, Matt Niskanen has proved more than capable to pick up Michalek’s minutes on his own in the top four.
Now, does that mean the Penguins won’t inquire on Yandle in Phoenix on defense or Rick Nash in Columbus to find a winger to play with Sidney Crosby? No, of course not. I think the Pens will definitely inquire on both and see it through if there’s a chance on Nash, for sure. But the Penguins are not desperate. They’re not going to overpay for the sake of doing something. This is a good team no matter what happens from here on out.
• If Florida and Vancouver conclude a Roberto Luongo transaction this summer, I’m guessing the Canucks would insist on Jose Theodore being part of the package. He’s a quality veteran who would provide terrific insurance while Cory Schneider takes on the No. 1 role for the first time in his career. However, two sticking points: 1) Would Theodore want to be a backup after being a starter most of his career? 2) Theodore has a limited no-trade clause that lists 10 teams the Panthers can trade him to without consent. The Canucks, a source confirmed to ESPN.com, are not among those 10 teams, which means he would have to agree to a trade to Vancouver. Now, having said that, Theodore’s best seasons were in Montreal, when his goalie coach was Rollie Melanson, who just happens to be the goalie coach in Vancouver right now.
Food for thought.
• The Carolina Hurricanes were eager to get into the Rick Nash sweepstakes but after finding out what the price would be to get him, they have withdrawn from those sweepstakes, a Hurricanes source told ESPN.com Thursday.
The sticking point? The Blue Jackets were insisting on Jeff Skinner. Um, no thanks.
As one Western Conference team executive told ESPN.com Thursday, "There's a deal to be made there on Nash if the Jackets would accept a double. But they're looking for a home run."
• Matt Carle’s contract breakdown with Tampa:
Year 1: $3 million signing bonus+$2 million salary=$5 million
Years 2-3: $5.75 million salary
Years 4-6: $5.5 million salary
The key is that Carle has already pocketed $3 million no matter what happens on the NHL labor front, plus if half the season is wiped out he only loses about $1 million in salary given the base in Year 1. Smart deal by agent Kurt Overhardt.
• I leave you with this: How in demand was Parise? I’m told he generated 16 or 17 official offers while about 20 teams inquired. Whoa.