The clock is ticking on David Poile and the Nashville Predators to get something done with Shea Weber in advance of his August 2nd arbitration hearing date. Weber remains with the likes of Drew Doughty and Zach Parise, and to a lesser extent Luke Schenn, as star caliber restricted free agents still waiting on a new contract.

Weber earned $4.5 million against the cap last season in the final year of a three-year $13.5 million deal. Given his Norris Trophy nomination and appointment to captain of the Predators last season, he should be looking for a substantial raise. Rightfully so. Weber is just 25-years old, and a quick glance at the cap hits of a few comparables (Brent Seabrook $5.8 million, Duncan Keith $5.538 million, Mike Green $5.25 million, etc.) would indicate that Weber could command somewhere in the range of $6 million per season or more.

Although abritration would effectively secure Weber, Poile remains adamant that a deal between the player and the team would be the best route, via Josh Cooper at The Tennessean:

“It would be way better for the player and the team to negotiate a contract. But the arbitration gives you that ability if you can’t do that. And right now that’s where we fall if we can’t get a contract done.”

The likelihood of negotiations going to arbitration received a boost in light of Poile’s comments regarding communication between the Predators and Weber’s camp, according to Cooper Poile had reached out on Tuesday but had not heard back. Either way, a last minute deal remains the preferred method:

“We are preparing to go to Toronto (for arbitration). Would I like to sign Shea to a longer-term contract vs. going to arbitration? Absolutely.”

The issue could very well be term. It would be best for Nashville to lock up Weber to a long-term deal and spread the cap hit out, but there have been some rumblings of Weber’s agent Jarrett Bousquet looking for a shorter deal. The club would obviously prefer to keep Weber in Nashville through his prime, rather than risk him becoming a UFA in 2013.

As we saw with Steven Stamkos in Tampa, a mutual desire to get something done between the player and team can lead to a relative bargain. There’s little time left for the Predators to reach such an agreement with their franchise player, but not late enough to rule it out just yet.

What do you say, will Weber sign with Nashville in advance of his arbitration date?

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