The recent offer sheet, 110 million over 14 years, which the Philadelphia Flyers gave to Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber has become a recurring trend in modern-day NHL. Teams are giving massive contracts to elite players, stretched out over long periods of time. However, not every NHL team cannot afford to dole out these mammoth contracts. Nashville is not considered a traditional hockey town, and have seen only a recent surge in the standings create buzz for the Preds in Tennessee. On the other hand, the Flyers are a large market team, easily garnering annual revenue. In what has become a consistent trend in the NHL, large market teams are bullying small market teams. In a similar coup, Minnesota gave Ryan Suter, a former Predator defenseman, a massive contract for 98 million spread over 13 years. Minnesota, although not boasting a fantastic team, is called the “State of Hockey.” The Wild have a large, dedicated fan base and have proven that they have the money to purchase star players to help their franchise.
In taking a closer look at the contracts themselves, it is clear that GM’s are exposing the CBA’s loopholes. If Shea Weber were to sign the offer sheet, he would only be making 1 million dollars in salary for the first four years. However, there are 13 million dollars in bonuses that Weber can receive annually as well. By paying Shea Weber 14 million dollars over the first four years, GM Paul Holmgren assures that he does not pay one player more than 20 percent of the salary cap. Exposing another loophole in the CBA, a 14 year contract would mean that Weber would be turning 39 at the end of his contract. A long-term contract signed, that would span past the age of 40, is illegal under the current terms of the CBA.
With the need for a new CBA to be signed, it is without a doubt that these large contracts are at the forefront. While in the most recent proposal, the owners are “crying poor” to the players, it is clear that some owners have the finances to offer these massive contracts. The old CBA was meant to insure an even playing field, where all 30 teams in the NHL had a chance to compete. However, with the current CBA, it is clear that a small market team like the Nashville Predators cannot have a sustained period of success. Their bright young stars will be bought by a big market team, causing the Predators to have to rebuild continuously. With the new CBA, there is bound to be loopholes, but I think that an “Ilya Kovalchuk”-like deal should be outlawed.