[...] For years, the largest agency in hockey has been Newport Sports, led by Don Meehan and Pat Morris. [...] At times, as many as 140 NHLers have been represented by them. That number guarantees important signings every season. This summer, Newport's key players include RFAs Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty, UFAs Brad Richards and Eric Brewer, Zach Parise (who is going to arbitration with New Jersey) and Ryan Smyth (who wants to go back to Edmonton).
As good as that group is, there was potential for even more. Approximately two weeks ago, Shea Weber left Newport for Titan Sports Management, led by Kevin Epp. That followed Ilya Bryzgalov's defection to Ritch Winter's Sports Corporation. [...Weber's] move created a ton of buzz. While the Predators, Lightning and Kings are working hard with Newport to get Weber, Stamkos and Doughty signed to new contracts, we are getting close to July 1, which is when offer sheets can be made. While it remains possible they will sign before that date, the closer we get, the more the leverage shifts to the players.
[...A]mong NHL types, Weber was considered the most likely to receive an offer sheet. That's why Nashville offered arbitration last week. It eliminates the possibility of an offer the Predators figured was coming. (Stamkos and Doughty are not eligible for arbitration.
[...] Weber's move is seen as a sign of dissatisfaction with Newport, a sign that he wants to stay in Nashville first and foremost.
In other words, Weber was being pressured by his agents to go for the big payday and screw the team. Weber didn't want to do that, so he left. Is there any reason to believe the same pressure is not being applied to Doughty or Stamkos?
There is a belief he will avoid arbitration and sign with the Predators (probably in the neighbourhood of $6-$6.3 million per year). [Many people are] happy to see this. And it's not just other agents. Newport's power makes it a target, and when sharks smell blood in the water, you know what happens.That's why it will be interesting to watch where things end up with these players. They all have leverage, but there are plenty of people whispering, "It's not being used properly."
I made this comment in a previous post, re Smyth and Doughty:
My problem, and it’s pretty much always my reaction in these situations, is that the agents don’t represent the interests of the clients. They represent the interests of the agents. The NHLPA doesn’t protect the interests of the players; it represents itself, the power held by the NHLPA. Both bodies have a vested interest in driving players’ salaries as high as possible in every situation. Always, no matter what. They never ever say — for example — "look, you could get $5MM per year, but if your numbers do what most peoples’ numbers do (decline after age 27), your contract will be untradeable and you will end up playing in the AHL for the rest of your contract."