On July 8th, the free agent status of the four players(Cal O'Reilly, Nick Spaling, Matt Halischuk, and Sergei Kostitsyn) will be decided when the grievance case that was filed by the NHLPA against the Nashville Predators will be heard. It's an extremely important day for the Predators because, if the NHLPA wins, the four players in question will become unrestricted free agents.
There is another issue that could possibly be created here if the NHLPA gets their way. If the worst possible situation occurs, and the players in question become unrestricted and leave Nashville, how will that go over with Shea Weber?
Think about it. If Halischuk, Kostitsyn, O'Reilly and Spaling leave, Nashville will become almost a completely different team. By my count, nine players that were a part of Nashville's playoff run last year will be gone. Nashville has already lost Goc, Ward, Dumont, Sullivan and O'Brien. To a certain degree, all of those players were expected to leave. However, none of the players that are a part of the NHLPA grievance situation were expected to leave.
Depending on what the Preds do between now and that point, they might become a less attractive option for Weber to make a longer-term deal with. As it stands, the Preds are currently a contender in the Western Conference. However, if those players are lost, they become a much weaker team. Weber isn't interested on taking steps backwards.
Weber is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after next year. If this mess ends up making Nashville a much worse team on paper, you can bet that Weber will have second thoughts about a long-term contract. Assuming the arbitration is only for one year, Weber could be interested in testing the free agent market next summer if Nashville is taking steps in the wrong direction.
Of course, there are many things that would have to happen for this to take place. For one, Nashville's four players in question would all have to become unrestricted free agents. After that, they would have to leave Nashville, leaving them with only three lines of players that have been in the NHL before. There are several ways to prevent this nightmare situation from happening.
It's no secret that the Predators need scoring. While this year's free agent market doesn't have a huge star, there are several players still out there who can put points on the board. Regardless of what happens with the Qualifying Offer case, the Predators still have to address their lack of scoring.
Like I said before, every one that Nashville has lost so far was expected to be gone. One possible exception to that is Joel Ward, but there was never a 100% guarantee that he would remain in Nashville. That part isn't a big deal. The bigger deal is on July 8th, when the fate of Nashville's RFA's are decided.
July 8th is a very important day for the future of the Predators. Prednation will be hoping that Nashville's RFA's will remain RFAs. Weber will also be watching that day very closely. Because of that, I wouldn't expect any news on Weber negotiations until the grievance case is decided upon. David Poile better hope that nothing comes of out of the RFA situation, or he might have an entirely new issue on his hands.