New Names, New Faces – Part 1
As with any offseason, a number of big names players moved from one team to the next, so let's take a look at some of the bigger moves this summer thus far.
In the free agency market, the undisputed winner of the most sought after talents was the Minnesota Wild. Using their hometown allure to attract former Devils captain Zach Parise, the team doubled their splash by also bringing along former Predators' defenseman Ryan Suter. With both players signed to 13 year deals, the Wild's brain trust of GM Chuck Fletcher and Coach Mike Yeo, two names familiar to many Penguins fans as former assistants with our club, had a real positive impact for them.
In some ways, what happened in Minnesota led to what has been one of the two other large stories of the offseason in terms of player movement. Having lost one-half of their key shut down pairing in Nashville, the Predators were having difficulty signing their captain, shutdown defenseman Shea Weber. As contract negotiations stalled, Weber, who was a restricted free agent, made the unusual move of signing an offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers. RFAs are rarely signed by other teams because the host team can match and such offers have a tendency to hamstring teams dealing with cap issues and are considered bad form between the general managers.
Oblivious to this, the Flyers pushed ahead with a heavily top loaded deal in an effort to sign Weber, knowing the cost of success would be their next four top draft choices as compensation. The 14 year deal valued at $110 million included $13 million dollar salaries in each of the first four years of the contract, a challenge to the small market Predators. Facing the potential of losing their two top defensemen in the same offseason, Nashville matched the offer after the first tense few days ensuring that Weber can remain a Predator for life or until they decide otherwise in Tennessee.
Most importantly, Philadelphia got nothing except contempt for their GM Paul Holmgren for breaking an unwritten rule in trying to snatch a RFA, a decision which may have consequences in upcoming years.