Things are heating up in August as the NHL prepares for training camp in September. Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber had an arbitration hearing today, while the San Jose Sharks signed two defencemen who will bolster their blueline this season.
Weber awarded big money
The Predators filed for arbitration with Weber, who is a restricted free agent, to avoid the possibility of another team signing the 25-year-old to an offer sheet over the summer. In an arbitration hearing today, Weber asked for a one-year contract reportedly worth $8.5 million, while the Predators countered with a one-year deal of their own worth $4.75 million.
According to CBC's Tim Wharnsby, the arbitrator ruled shortly after that Weber would be awarded $7.5 million for next season, a record in NHL arbitration. Since the Predators filed for arbitration, they are unable to walk away from the deal.
Weber will become a restricted free agent again next summer, though the Predators will also have to tend to goaltender Pekka Rinne and other star defenceman Ryan Suter, who become unrestricted free agents as of July 1 of next year.
Weber, who turns 26 this month, is a cornerstone for the Predators on a team that was built with a defence-first mentality. The Norris Trophy finalist ranked 8th in the league in average ice time last season, and 10th in points among defencemen with 16 goals and 32 assists.
Sharks add a pair of blueliners
In other news, the San Jose Sharks made a pair of signings to strengthen their blueline for the upcoming year, locking up recently acquired defenceman Brent Burns to a 5-year extension worth $28.8 million. The Sharks then took advantage of a New Jersey Devils salary dump, signing defenceman Colin White to a one-year deal worth $1 million.
White only had 6 assists for the Devils last season, and was bought out by the team on Tuesday, but he is a stay-at-home defenceman that Sharks GM Doug Wilson called "a stopper, a physical guy who's also an excellent penalty killer".
"You can never have too many of those," Wilson told the San Jose Mercury News.
In other re-signings, the Chicago Blackhawks locked up star forward Patrick Sharp to a five-year extension worth $29.5 million. Sharp enjoyed his most productive season yet, setting a career high with 34 goals and scoring 71 points in 74 games. The deal will have an annual cap hit of $5.9 million a season, according to capgeek.com.
Nabokov reporting for duty
New York Islanders' goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is reportedly planning on reporting to training camp for the Islanders this season, after sitting out all of last year. The former Sharks netminder was claimed off waivers from Detroit last season after he tried to sign a deal with the Red Wings, but the Islanders got him instead. Nabokov did not report to the struggling Islanders and was suspended by the team, but the 36-year-old told Newsday in Long Island he plans on attending training camp this season.
"Yes, I do plan on attending," Nabokov said. "Now I will have full preparation for the season."
Nabokov will be contesting with Rick DiPietro for the starting job in New York, but the young DiPietro has failed to live up to his monstrous 15-year, $67.5 million contract he signed in 2006. Since that year, DiPietro played over 60 games just twice in the first two years of the deal, and then played only 39 games over the next three years, due to injuries. The 29-year-old was selected first overall in the 2000 Entry Draft by the Islanders, and played 26 games last year for the Islanders before being injured in a goalie fight with Pittsburgh's Brent Johnson.