Challenging offseason awaits Predators 

May, 10, 2011
05/10/11
10:28
AM ET

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.

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