It has been a full week since NHL Free Agency started and the Detroit Red Wings have yet to fill the void that has been left by the departures of Nicklas Lidström and Brad Stuart. Of the many suggestions of how to fill these gaps left by the two, the most prominent idea was to sign Ryan Suter. However, Suter made that a non-issue after he signed a 13-year, 98-million dollar contract in Minnesota. Since then the Wings have been scrambling to try to find the guy that could fill the hole but with no luck. However, recently many reporters and bloggers have started to suggest that the Wings should throw a qualifying offer at Shea Weber, an offer that Nashville could not match. Could it be done? I think so, and here’s why.
The suggestion, that originated at the Red Wings blog, Nightmare on Helm Street, is to offer Weber a 1-year 12-million dollar contract. This would be a record-breaking deal, a contract never seen before. The Wings could sign him for this for one year and then negotiate a long term deal at about 8 million per year. Despite the extraordinary cost, I fully believe that this is a great idea. Weber is a perennial Norris Trophy contender and plays at least close to the level of Nicklas Lidström. There isn’t a better option out there that could replace our former captain and the fact that he is available on the market makes this a no-brainier.
Now there is another cost to it, if we offered Weber a one-year contract worth 12 mil per year, we would also have to give up 4-first round draft picks. Some people are panicking over that thought but honestly its not too big of a cost. The NHL draft isn’t like the NFL draft. Late-first round picks rarely ever make an impact their first season. Most NHL-draft picks don’t make their pro team until their at least 22 but some not until their 25. The NHL draft is very much a gamble and giving up 4, probably late, first round draft picks isn’t a big deal. I remember reading an article a while back, and while I forget who it was, he did make a very good point that all players picked from 15 to 60 are basically the same. Ken Holland believes in this philosophy that is why we have traded back quite a few times in the draft. Look at 2011 for example, the Wings traded their first round pick to Ottowa and picked up their two 2nd round picks who turned out to be Xavier Oullet and Tomas Jurco. Jurco was mocked as high as #20 yet he slipped to #35. Unless you have top-10 draft pick you aren’t going to be picking up a star from day-one and as long as the Wings have players like Howard, Datsyuk and Zetterberg they won’t be picking in the top-10.
If you take a look at out first round picks during the post-lockout era there isn’t really anyone that jumps out to you.
2005: Jakub Kindl
2006: None(Traded to Coyotes for picks #41 and #47, used on Cory Emmerton and Shawn Matthias)
2007: Brendan Smith
2008: Tomas McCollum
2009: None(Traded Pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for pick #32 and #75, used on Landon Ferraro and Andrej Nestrasil)
2010: Riley Sheahan
2011: None(Traded Pick To Ottowa in exchange for picks #35 and #48, used on Tomas Jurco and Xavier Oullet)
2012: None( Pick Traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for Kyle Quincey)
As you can see there is no one on the above list that is even close to how good Shea Weber is. Sure, Smith is looking very promising but he hasn’t even fully broken into the NHL. With that said using 4-first round picks on Shea Weber is a none issue.
So with that cleared, the other question becomes can the Wings afford it? The answer is yes. The Red Wings currently have $16,832,955 in cap space and still need to sign forward Justin Abdelkader and defenseman Kyle Quincey. With Weber signed the Wings would have $4,832,955 in cap space. Now the Wings might be able to negotiate a long-term deal straight from the get-go with Shea Weber but I do expect Weber to wait until at least the trade deadline to see how they perform. So with that said the Wings will most likely not be able to sign both Kyle Quincey and Justin Abdelkader. Abby wants at least 1.5 mil and Quincey will be looking to make around 4 mil. The Wings also don’t want to be pressing the salary cap in case the cap is lowered after a new CBA agreement is reached. With Abby signed the Wings would have 16 forwards, 2 over the roster limit. So a trade would need to happen. I honestly doubt that Brunner will make the team and that shaves of $1,350,000 from the cap. Also I expect Cory Emmerton to be dumped for a late round pick which also saves $533,333. With these two contracts gone the Wings will have $6,716,288 enough to sign both Abby and Quincey. If Quincey signs for 4 mil and Abby for 1.5 mil the Wings will have a $1,216,288 in cap space. Enough to be comfortable about the new CBA.
Obviously signing Weber eliminates the possibility of signing either Alexander Semin or Shane Doan but getting the best defenseman in the league is way more valuable to this team than both of them combined. With the Weber signing we could have this potential roster next season(Per capgeek.com).
Gustav Nyquist ($0.875m) / Pavel Datsyuk ($6.700m) / Johan Franzen ($3.955m)
Valtteri Filppula ($3.000m) / Henrik Zetterberg ($6.083m) / Mikael Samuelsson ($3.000m)
Danny Cleary ($2.800m) / Darren Helm ($2.125m) / Jordin Tootoo ($1.900m)
Drew Miller ($0.838m) / Justin Abdelkader ($1.500m) / Todd Bertuzzi ($2.075m)
Jan Mursak ($0.550m) / Patrick Eaves ($1.200m)
Niklas Kronwall ($4.750m) / Shea Weber ($12.000m)
Jonathan Ericsson ($3.250m) / Ian White ($2.875m)
Kyle Quincey ($4.000m) / Brendan Smith ($0.875m)
Jakub Kindl ($0.883m) /
Jimmy Howard ($2.250m)
Jonas Gustavsson ($1.500m)
By no means the greatest team but I believe that our young guns will step it up and making the playoffs shouldn’t be as hard. So all in all, making a move for Shea Weber is a great idea and it should be done.
On a different note, Henrik Zetterberg spoke to the Swedish newspaper ST about maybe becoming the new captain in Detroit. Zetterberg said that it would be very special to take over the “C” in Detroit but he says nothing is official yet and he believes that it won’t be decided until training camp in September. Henrik also spoke about Lidströms decision to retire and said that the entire Red Wings organization has feared the day Nick would hang it up.
Please leave some feedback and tell me what you think about the Detroit Red Wings potentially signing Shea Weber.
About the Author
Written by Chris Neubacher
Die-hard Red Wings, Tigers, Lions and Pistons fan. Having lived most of his life in Detroit Chris loves sports and respects the city and what it stands for.