Wednesday, July 25, 2012

David Poile and the Ghost of Offer Sheets Past

David Poile wasn't going to let history repeat itself.

No, it's not recent history with Ryan Suter leaving the Predators, it's the fact that he lost a future Hall of Famer to an offer sheet. Now, it's too early to say that Shea Weber is a Hall of Famer, but the style that he has is similiar to the one that Poile let get away back in the day.

In the summer of 1990, a young Washington Capital defenseman named Scott Stevens was offer sheeted by the St. Louis Blues and David Poile, the Caps GM at the time, didn't feel the need to match that and let Stevens go for first round Draft picks (five in total) and $100,000 in compensation. Of course, Stevens went on to become one of the most feared stay-at-home defenseman and three-time Stanley Cup winner, which would land him into the Hall of Fame.

You have to think that reliving that nightmare again wasn't going to be in the cards for Poile a second time, even though many thought Stevens was over the whole experience in DC. Even though Poile had an extra first rounder (two would be Brendan Witt and Sergei Gonchar), it still didn't help that void of Stevens-- hindsight being what it is.

Poile learned from that and probably valued Weber a little higher than Stevens because Weber is the captain and a big force to the team as a whole, while Stevens at the time was still in the shadow of Rod Langway in terms of notoriety. If Weber had been allowed to walk away, the fan base would have been in an uproar (rightfully so) and Poile may have been run out on a rail if they didn't make the playoffs this season. Luckily, Poile and the Caps made the playoffs years after Stevens' departure-- though nothing of true substance, sadly.

With the wisdom that Poile has gained and seeing what could happen, it was a good combination when it comes to actually matching the offer sheet by the Flyers. Also, the Rick Nash deal and seeing the backlash that a GM got for giving up his star player for a less-than-desirable return (according to some) probably helped Poile's case to the ownership that Weber is needed in order to help this franchise along and to keep their higher profile players around.

Granted, that is a lot of money for a guy like Weber, but he is still looking at his prime years ahead of him, he still can contribute on all side of the rink, and could very well help the Predators in the playoffs with each year of experience he gets. Hopefully the investment for the Predators work out-- though it could be damning to Poile, Weber, and the team if it doesn't.

In the end, Poile could be in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation now because of it. Only time and revisionist history will tell.

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