Challenging offseason awaits Predators 

May, 10, 2011

On the muggy morning after, the Nashville Predators and their fans look to the future. Here are three of the questions they might be pondering:

First and foremost: Can they keep Shea Weber in Music City?

The Grizzly Adams of playoff defensemen, Weber can be a restricted free agent on July 1. That means interested teams -- read: anyone with enough cap space -- can deliver an offer sheet to his door. The Predators could match an offer, but a potential suitor could make the deal so rich that it would be budget-breaking for Nashville to do so.

Weber earned $4.5 million last season. When I look around the league, I have to figure he could command an annual salary of $7M or more. He could opt to sign a one-year deal in Nashville and test a completely open market as a UFA in July 2012. Of course, the landscape for player movement against the backdrop of a CBA negotiation next summer could be quite different.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.