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Arbitrator gives Nashville's Weber top award of $7.5 million

An arbitrator has awarded Nashville defenseman Shea Weber $7.5 million for the next season, and Predators General Manager David Poile says it's proof their captain is one of the league's best.

"Shea, by this award, certainly got recognized as one of the top, if not the best defenseman in all of the National Hockey League," Poile said in a conference call Wednesday.

Weber won the highest award handed out in NHL arbitration and made him the fifth-highest paid defenseman in the NHL. Poile said that they negotiated hard with Weber's agents, talking everything from a one-year contract to a multiyear deal but couldn't agree on the term, length or structure.

The Predators chose to take the Norris Trophy finalist and team captain to arbitration, and the arbitrator heard arguments Tuesday in a hearing in Toronto. The Predators argued that Weber was due $4.75 million, while Weber's agents countered with $8.5 million.

"We will continue to work on a longer term contract once the season gets started," Poile said.

Weber will be a restricted free agent after the 2011-12 season. He had 48 points in 82 games last season.

"It is nice to get this arbitration process out of the way for now and hopefully this can lead to further negotiations between my agents and the Predators," Weber said on the conference call.

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Around the boards

* Chicago and forward Patrick Sharp have agreed to five-year contract extension. The 29-year-old Sharp tied for eighth in the league with a team-leading 34 goals and had a career high 71 points.

* San Jose signed 33-year-old defenseman Colin White just one day after he was waived by New Jersey. White is the third defenseman the Sharks have added, following a trade for All-Star Brent Burns and the acquisition of free agent James Vandermeer. White is a physical player who can help the Sharks' weak penalty kill.

* St. Louis winger David Perron will miss the start of the season with a concussion suffered in a hit Nov. 4 by San Jose's Joe Thornton.

* Ryan Kesler, who scored 41 goals for Vancouver last season, had surgery to repair a torn labrum (hip). The Selke Trophy winner is expected to make a full recovery in 10 to 12 weeks, which means he will miss the start of the season.

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