Simply put, Weber is a franchise-changer and one of the best players at his position. Plus, he’s about to enter his prime.
It also got us to thinking that a move of this nature, if successful, could leave the Jets vulnerable with Evander Kane, himself a restricted free agent.
We understand this is an apples-and-oranges hypothetical and remains a bit of a longshot, but what if a team like the New York Rangers grows tired of the asking price for Rick Nash and tosses out an offer sheet for Kane instead?
Maybe even the Flyers, who could use a talented winger after the departure of Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk.
We don’t think it will come to this and still believe the negotiations between the Jets and Kane’s camp are moving forward toward an amicable resolution for both sides, but it certainly makes for an interesting discussion.
We realize that most offer sheets have been matched during the past decade, but the “What-if” scenario is worth exploring.
You could easily make the argument the Rangers (or whatever team entered the equation) would rather absorb the loss of four first-round draft picks, presumably from 22-to-30, to try and sign Kane instead of dealing roster players/picks/prospects for Nash.
The same applies to a team that misses out in the Nash or Shane Doan sweepstakes.
Kane is closing in on his 21st birthday, has three seasons under his belt and is coming off a career year in which he produced 30 goals and 57 points, despite missing eight games and not seeing much in the way of first-line power play minutes.
He’s got a rocket shot, brings a physical side and has the drive to take his game to another level.
Sure, he can be a bit streaky when it comes to scoring and would like to add more of a playmaking element to his game, but Kane is a pure sniper and figures to be in that 30-plus category for years to come.
To suggest he could eclipse 40 as early as next season and one day take a shot at 50 is not a stretch.
Which leads us back to our original premise, what would the Jets do if a team offered Kane a deal of more than 10 years that was front-loaded and featured a big signing bonus?
Kane would only be in his early 30s at the end of that contract, but we’re not sure the organization is ready to commit more than $6 million or more for that length of time to a player at this point, no matter how high his ceiling might be.
However, there is an easy way around this potential — if unlikely — threat.
Get Kane’s name on a long-term contract that balances what he’s already accomplished while recognizing his potential moving forward.
Something in the neighbourhood of five years and around $22-to-26 million should cover it and leave both sides relatively happy.
Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets, fourth overall pick in 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Restricted free agent without arbitration rights
Age: 20 (21 on Aug. 2)
2011-12 stats: 74 GP, 30 G, 27 A, 57 P
Career stats: 213 GP, 63 G, 63 A, 126 P, 183 PIM
Playoff stats: N/A
Salary comparables for Kane on a long-term deal
—John Tavares, New York Islanders, first overall pick in 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Age: 21 (22 on Sept. 20)
2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 31 G, 50 A, 81 P, 26 PIM
Career stats: 243 GP, 84 G, 118 A, 202 P, 101 PIM
Playoff stats: N/A
Signed a six-year deal for $33 million that runs through 2017-18 and averages $5.5 million per season
—James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins, 33rd overall pick in 2005 NHL Entry Draft (Dallas Stars)
2011-12 stats: 80 GP, 40 G, 41 A, 81 P, 87 PIM
Career stats: 314 GP, 113 G, 105 A, 218 P, 268 PIM
Playoff stats: 12 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 P, 18 PIM
Signed a six-year deal worth $30 million that runs through 2017-18 and averages $5 million per season
—Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks, second overall pick in 2005 NHL Entry Draft
2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 31 G, 26 A, 57 P, 53 PIM
Career stats: 332 GP, 136 G, 123 A, 259 P, 234 PIM
Playoff stats: 19 GP, 8 G, 3 A, 11 P, 4 PIM
Signed a five-year deal worth $25.5 million that runs through 2014-15 and averages $5.1 million per season
—Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs, fifth overall in 2006 NHL Entry Draft (Boston Bruins)
2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 37 G, 45 A, 82 P, 20 PIM
Career stats: 456 GP, 165 G, 162 A, 327 P, 121 PIM
Playoff stats: 15 GP, 9 G, 6 A, 15 P, 6 PIM
Signed a five-year deal worth $27 million that runs through 2013-14 and averages $5.4 million per season
Pros of a long-term deal
Locking up another one of the building blocks at a reasonable cost
Cons of a long-term deal
With financial security, there's a risk Kane plateaus and doesn't take his game to another level
Salary comparables for Kane on a bridge contract
—Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche, third overall pick in 2009 NHL Entry Draft
2011-12 stats: 58 GP, 14 G, 14 A, 28 P, 8 PIM
Career stats: 219 GP, 65 G, 85 A, 150 P, 57 PIM
Playoff stats: 6 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 P, 0 PIM
Signed a two-year deal for $7 million that runs through 2013-14 and averages $3.5 million
—Claude Giroux, Philadelpia Flyers, 22nd overall pick in 2006 NHL Entry Draft
2011-12 stats: 77 GP, 28 G, 65 A, 93 P, 29 PIM
Career stats: 285 GP, 78 G, 165 A, 243 P, 113 PIM
Playoff stats: 50 GP, 21 G, 34 A, 55 P, 31 PIM
Signed a three-year deal for $11.25 million that runs through 2013-14 and carries a cap hit of 3.75 million per season
The pros of a bridge deal
Cost certainty for two seasons and Jets can ensure Kane continues mature on and off ice
The cons of a bridge deal
With a season or two of 40-plus goals, the price could go up substantially
Kane signs a deal for five seasons and roughly $4.75 to 5.2 million per and the Jets have one more opportunity to extend him at the end of deal under the new CBA before he becomes a UFA
Prominent offer sheets over past five years
July 18, 2012—Philadelphia Flyers offer D Shea Weber 14 years and $110 million. Nashville Predators still deciding whether or not they will match
July 9, 2010— San Jose Sharks offer D Niklas Hjalmarsson four years and $14 million but Chicago Blackhawks match
July 1, 2008— Vancouver Canucks offer C David Backes three years and $7.5 million but St. Louis Blues match
July 26, 2007— Edmonton Oilers offer LW Dustin Penner five years and $21.5 million and Anaheim Ducks fail to match, receive first, second and third round draft picks in 2008
July 6, 2007— Edmonton Oilers offer LW Thomas Vanek seven years and $50 million, but Buffalo Sabres match
Sept. 12, 2006— Philadelphia Flyers offer C Ryan Kesler one year and $1.9 million but Vancouver Canucks match