The Nashville Predators learned first hand just how important avoiding arbitration is.
On Wednesday, Shea Weber was awarded a one-year, $7.5 million contract by an arbitrator, the most ever awarded through arbitration. The deal, according to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk, was $1 million less than Weber was asking for, but $3 million more than Nashville was offering.
Weber has made it clear that he wants to stay in Nashville, but that he wants pieces put around him to help the team win now. However, the team saw Joel Ward, Steve Sullivan, Cody Franson and Shane O'Brien all exit town following the end of the 2011 season.
And with the addition of Brett Lebda and Niclas Bergfors this offseason, the pieces Weber is looking for are seemingly still out there.
Weber, who led the Predators to the second round of the playoffs, is one of the top defenseman in the league. He joins Brian Campbell as the only defensemen who will have a salary cap hit of over $7 million this season.
However, it seems like Nashville might not be all that Weber had in mind. Weber will become a restricted free agent next summer if he and the team can't agree on a long-term deal.
Finding the missing pieces might be Nashville's only choice in keeping the blue liner in town.
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