Weber awarded $7.5 million from arbitrator

To top off two days of exciting news developments, the independent arbitrator in the Shea Weber contract negotiations came back today and awarded the Nashville Predators defenseman a one-year, $7.5 million contract for this upcoming season.

Weber, 25, was asking for $8.5 million while the Predators sought a deal worth $4.75 million. The deal will make Weber the fifth highest-paid defenseman this season according to

Due to the rules governing the free agent process, Weber will again be a restricted free agent following the completion of this current contract next season. Weber will have the option to file for player-elected arbitration if he chooses, but Nashville is unable to file for team-elected arbitration. Weber will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2013.

Because Nashville elected for the arbitration process, the team has no choice but to honor the award as opposed to having the option of walking away from the award in a player-elected arbitration, essentially allowing the player to become an unrestricted free agent.

However, Nashville always has the option of trading Weber. This becomes a likely scenario if Nashville feels as if their relationship with Weber is beyond repair and they will not be able to sign the young defenseman long-term or feel that they risk losing him to an offer sheet next summer. While trading Weber would certainly be a tough sell, Nashville could definitely use scoring depth and could attain this through a trade. Moving Weber would also free up space to sign defenseman Ryan Suter and goaltender Pekka Rinne to long-term deals.

The next few weeks will be interesting to see not only how Nashville handles the arbitration award with Weber, but to see how Weber’s $7.5 million award effects other restricted free agent signings, particularly that of Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty who is believed to be seeking money similar to what Weber was awarded. The Kings still have more than $9 million available in cap space with Doughty left to sign and possible another forward.

Sound off! Is $7.5 million too much for Weber? Too little? Will Nashville try to trade Weber at the trade deadline?

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