The Large Hadron Collider sends particles smashing into each other at 99.9999991 percent of the speed of light. We mention this as a point of comparison to the speed with which the "Shea Weber's probably done in Nashville, and here are his escape routes" stories hit the hockey media, while Ryan Suter's name was drying on his Minnesota Wild contract.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported on Thursday that Shea Weber won't go to arbitration; the Predators can't take him there for a second consecutive season. So the restricted free agent either gets a new deal from Nashville or an offer sheet from another team.
Weber's agents aren't exactly painting a rosy picture for his future with the Preds. From The Tennessean:
"We're not really proceeding with anything right now," Weber's agent Jarrett Bousquet of Titan Sports Management said. "David (Poile) said they want to sign him long-term, so we'll just wait."
"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."
All of this should ratchet up the offer sheet chatter for Weber.
The problem for GM David Poile with an offer sheet is (a) the Predators would have to pay whatever salary is dictated by another team and (b) more importantly couldn't trade Weber next season, as per the CBA. (See: This scenario that could have played out with Cory Schneider.)
Jason Botchford of The Province wondered aloud if the B.C. native would be handed an offer sheet by the Vancouver Canucks:
Of course, any Weber discussion wouldn't be complete without mention of an offer sheet. As a restricted free agent, if he were signed to a one-year, predatory offer sheet in the $6,268,175-$7,835,219 range, the compensation would be two first-round picks, a second and third.
Would the Predators match? Probably, but then they couldn't trade him for a year, and next July they'd be in the exact same situation they just were with Suter. And can Poile risk getting hit again with another jackhammer?
The Predators have said, consistently, that they would match any offer sheet to Weber. Does losing Suter change that?
Meanwhile … you have to feel for Predators fans today. Ryan Suter leaves for a team that's further away from the Cup than Nashville, leaving their GM feeling betrayed. Then, almost immediately, the hockey world starts plotting Shea Weber's course out of Nashville. Well, at least their goaltending's set.