By Amanda DiPaolo
As the off season for the Nashville Predators begins so continues speculation about free agency.
General Manager David Poile says signing restricted free agent Shea Weber to a new deal is the Predators top priority.
While the Predators and Weber’s agent have met a couple of times during the season, negotiations were put off until Nashville’s season was over.
“They definitely want to wrap it up before July 1,” Poile said about the possibility of having Weber signed to a deal before the July 1st deadline.
If the Predators sign Weber to a new deal or if salary arbitration is sought before July 1st, other teams will not be able to sign the All-Star defenseman to an offer sheet. If the deadline passes and an offer sheet is signed, the Predators can still match it.
When Poile was asked about the state of the team’s budget, his answer was frank.
“If you are asking will we be able to sign Shea Weber, the answer is yes,” he said.
Weber also confirms that he will be a Nashville Predator next season. “It’s gonna happen. I want to stay here. It’s just a matter of time before something gets done,” the Sicamous, British Columbia native said.
“I love it here. The people in Nashville are awesome. The fans are the best in the League. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else,” Weber added, but he is not in a hurry to rush into a deal. “I don’t think it has to get done quickly. I want to stay here, there is no rush. It’s not like I’m not going anywhere.”
While Weber has repeatedly stated that he loves the city and wants to remain a part of the team, it doesn’t hurt that the captain believes in the team he leads, saying the Predators as the team they are now can compete for the Stanley Cup.
“I think we can [win]. We were right there this year. You could see how close the games were against Vancouver, the number one team in the League. As long as we continue to work hard and get better, I think there is a good chance the Stanley Cup will come to Nashville,” he said.
The Predators have a number of players in key roles who will be both restricted and unrestricted free agents. Other restricted free agents include Nick Spaling, Matt Halischuk, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Cal O’Reilly. Unrestricted free agents include Shane O’Brien, Joel Ward, Steve Sullivan, and Marcel Goc.
Over the next couple of weeks the Predators organization will be meeting with the players who are in need a new contracts and will move forward from there.
Photo credit: AP
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