Much has been written already about the Philadelphia Flyers’ bold offer to the Nashville Predators’ restricted free agent defenseman Shea Weber. The details, in case you are living under a rock, are on vacation, don’t pay attention to hockey news in the summer, or just plain don’t like the NHL…
• Late Wednesday night, news broke that the Flyers and Weber agreed to a restricted free agent offer sheet that totals 14 years and roughly $110 million. Because Weber is a restricted, and not unrestricted, free agent, the Predators still own his rights and can choose to match the offer. If they match, they must pay Weber the terms of the Flyers’ offer. If they don’t match, the Flyers must give the Predators their next four first-round draft picks. The Predators have six more days to decide what to do.
• Because the Predators could still match the offer sheet, the Flyers have by no means completed the acquisition of Weber – one of the league’s best defenseman. However, what they have done is prevent Weber from playing for all teams in the NHL except for the Flyers or Predators. If the Predators don’t match the offer, Weber comes to Philly for the next 14 years. If they do match, he signs with Nashville for the next 14 years.
• The Flyers tried to work out a trade with Nashville before resorting to the offer sheet route, but the price got to be too high. Reports are that the Predators were requiring both Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, plus other assets, in a straight trade for Weber. So Flyers GM Paul Holmgren went bold and extended the restricted free agent offer sheet. Despite the offer sheet, the two teams could still agree to a trade for Weber, a polite gesture from the Flyers to the Predators that says, “hey, no hard feelings, guys.” Rumors have already swirled that Jakub Voracek could be sent to Nashville along with some draft picks if Nashville decides they want to let Weber leave.
• Before the Flyers’ offer sheet was official, Nashville GM David Poile repeatedly stated that he would match any offer extended to Weber, his team’s captain. But the Flyers crafted their offer in a way that could seriously hamper the Predators financially. While Nashville could easily absorb the $7.857 million salary cap hit that would come along with the offer, and probably even the total monetary value of the deal, they might have a hard time forking up all the up-front, guaranteed money the contract requires. Because of the way the Flyers structured the deal, with low base salaries and high bonuses, Weber is due $56 million in the first four years of the deal. It’s something Philly can easily afford, but can Nashville?
The Predators officially have until next Wednesday to make a decision, but they’ve probably already made up their minds, after spending all of yesterday digesting the details of the offer and responding to media inquiries.
How long they’ll go before revealing their intentions is anyone’s guess at this point, but one thing is for sure: By next Thursday, the Flyers will either have one of the league’s best defenseman in orange and black anchoring their blue line next season, or they’ll be back at square one – searching for alternate ways to improve the team.