August 05, 2011
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He's now the best-paid defenseman in the NHL in terms of cap hit, and something like fifth-highest in terms of take-home salary. Given that this is a salary cap league, doesn't it stand to reason that its best defenseman makes the most money?
Neither side could agree on either compensation or length of an extension that would have helped avoid the arbitration hearing; probably because David Poile kept faxing over a piece of paper that said, "100 years/$0." So when Nashville lowballed him at the hearing, maybe people shouldn't have been surprised, given the Predators' penchant for hugging the salary floor like a scared four-year-old and his blankie.
The $4.75 million proposal was, frankly, insulting to a player of Weber's caliber. One probably can't even imagine what the team's "This guy doesn't deserve a billion dollars a year" pitch was to the arbitrator.
Weber was a Norris finalist this year, for the simple fact that he is the best all-around defenseman in the league (he only didn't win because everyone thought Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) was going to retire). He led his team, which finished the season with 99 points and was a tie-breaker away from having home ice, in scoring until the final two weeks of the season. He is part of the best shutdown pairing in the world. He has a positively ruinous point shot. He plays a nasty physical game. He rarely makes a mistake. He's the best parts of Lidstrom and Zdeno Chara(notes) in one package. And he won't even be 26 for another 10 days.
But his receiving $7.5 million from the arbitrator — after asking for $8.5 million — is just about right. And after that, he gets to do it all over again because he will be a restricted free agent again in the summer of 2012. And this has led many to wonder what this means for the good, young defensemen who will be restricted free agents for their teams.
The answer is: Almost nothing. The reason the situations of those players are not comparable to Weber's is that Weber has no comparables.
(Coming Up: The Brooklyn Islanders and Pearls of BizNasty.)
This arbitrator's decision will mean absolutely zip to how other people get paid because none of them are even close to being of Weber's caliber. It's like saying Brad Marchand(notes) should get a certain amount because of Sidney Crosby's(notes) cap hit.
Doughty is the only other defenseman under the age of 30 in the NHL who's even worth mentioning alongside Weber in the "game-changing force in all three zones" conversation. He, too, was a Norris finalist already in his three-year career (last summer as a 20-year-old!) and like Weber is waiting for a new contract from his team.
Certainly, the $7.5 million, one-year baseline for the Predators captain is a little high for Doughty, but it's at least a jumping-off point; and something slightly below that on a per-year basis wouldn't or at least shouldn't be out of the question.
But even then, there is a huge difference between Weber's and Doughty's contract situations. The former, despite having the same number of Norris nominations and wins as the latter (one and none, respectively), also has twice as many NHL seasons under his belt, and he could have been considered elite for about half of them. It's not Doughty's fault that he only has three seasons as an NHLer — he's as old as he possibly can be — but there are two factors working against him.
First, and most importantly, just as Weber has three seasons of elite defenseman-ing to draw upon, Doughty arguably has just one, and that was two seasons ago (though no one with a brain would call him anything less than excellent). His point production dropped nearly 50 percent from his Norris-nominated year to last season. That certainly won't help his case any.
Second, and worth noting, is that Doughty, at 21, has many summers of restricted free agency ahead of him instead of Weber's one, which should work to depress his price somewhat. Put another way, he's far less a threat to leave the Kings in the near future than Weber is to bolt from Nashville.
So if you're worried about how this affects Luke Schenn(notes) or Zach Bogosion, you can just stop now. No one on the planet is as good at Weber's job as Weber, and none of his peers are in his position as a free agent with a team that repeatedly low-balls even its best players. Anyone who tries to compare themselves to Weber should get laughed out of their arbitration hearing, if they ever get to one. Which they never do.
The Weber situation is a unique scenario, certainly this season and perhaps since the salary cap was put into place.
To say otherwise is very silly indeed.
My ol' buddy Sean Gentille from the Sporting News was very excited that the Islanders might move to Brooklyn. Who can blame him?
@mavanco: The Isles will wear a plaid third jersey on Sunday home games
@ryantologist: Handful of current season ticket holders to be venerated for liking team before it was cool
@SuicidePass: playoff beards undistinguishable from regular-season beards.
@mpants: The three "Kings of Carrot Flowers" will be awarded post-game
@WayneTwittaker: Free agents are now referred to as indie players.
@PatrickKearns: The islanders draft grade was an 8.5 and they got best new draft team [from] Pitchfork.
And your winner:
@Danno2530: Islanders forfeit game at MSG when NYPD arrests entire team for using "Emergency Exit" door to get on F train.
Pearls of Biz-dom
BizNasty on knowitallism: "Actually it's you're not your. So easy on the grammar lessons."
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