Nashville General Manager, Dave Poile, made one of the biggest statements in the history of the new NHL on Tuesday. In signing defenseman Shea Weber to one of the richest deals in the league, $110 million over 14 years, Poile essentially changed the dynamic of small market teams. For decades, frugality and value have been the creed of all successful small market teams. But, with Poile’s record setting expenditure, the Nashville organization has spoken for all small market teams in proclaiming their willingness to spend with the big boys.
Nashville’s presumed rejection of Philadelphia’s offer sheet was, in essence, a forgone conclusion throughout the league. General Managers in both conferences believed there was no way the Predators could match such a ridiculously high offer. Other teams around the league made reactionary moves to the expected arrival of Shea Weber in Philadelphia, as the Rangers completed a blockbuster deal in which they acquired perennial all-star, Rick Nash, from Columbus. Evidently, Poile was able to see past the eventual salary cap implications of the enormous contract and make good on a promise he made to the Nashville fan base.
Heading into last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, Poile made a number of major deals to improve his team and effectively commit to winning now. He traded for Sergei Kostitsyn, Hal Gil, and Paul Gaustad after signing KHL superstar, Alexander Radulov, in an effort to improve his roster late in the regular season. The message was clear, the Predators were no longer going to sit back and sell at the deadline.
Now, with the long-term signings of two superstars in Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber, Poile has showed the league that Nashville, and small market teams as a whole, are willing to spend to contend in the new NHL. No longer will the Nashvilles, Carolinas, and Tampas of the league sit back and be bullied by big market teams. This burgeoning culture of small market spending will undoubtedly promote even more parity and enhance the competitive balance of the NHL.