It wasn’t long ago that the Flyers were rumored to be involved in Bobby Ryan trade talks. Other sources had them linked to Rick Nash and Shane Doan. However, today we learn that they were going hard after Predators restricted free agent Shea Weber as well.
Rather than work out a deal, the Flyers became impatient and signed
him to a mammoth 14 year/$100 million offer sheet.
The Predators have seven days to match. If they don't, Nashville receives four 1st round picks as
compensation. I find it hard to believe
that the Preds don't match but, given the size of the deal, anything is
Yet, as I write this, Bodog still has NHL futures on the board and the
Philadelphia Flyers are still at 15/1 to win the cup. Similar NHL odds can be found at various other
Landing Weber, either from this offer or via trade, would send the Flyers way up the power rankings and among the elite contenders to win the cup. Personally, I think they should already be
considered legitimate contenders, but with Weber they become a very scary team
to face in a seven game series.
Let's take a closer look at their current roster...
Up front they can ice the likes of Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Claude
Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Jakub Voracek, Wayne
Simmonds, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Max Talbot.
The Flyers weren't thrilled about losing Jaromir Jagr in free agency,
but when you look at the current collection of talent, experience, and youth
it's easy to see that they match up with any offense in the league. More than half of those players still have
their best years ahead of them, especially the rookie trio of Schenn,
Couturier, and Read.
Even without Weber, the Flyers have a solid group that includes Kimmo
Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Niklas Grossman, and Luke Schenn.
OK, granted, losing Matt Carle was an underrated blow and Luke Schenn
is still a project, but it's still a capable back end. In fact, Luke Schenn needed a change of
scenery from Toronto and still has a lot of potential as a solid stay-at-home
defenseman. He also led all NHL
defensemen in hits with 270 in 2011. Erik Gustafsson also showed signs that he could contribute in his rookie
I believe Ilya "Mr Universe" Bryzgalov is ready for a bounce-back year. Going from Phoenix to
Philadelphia was a big adjustment, and I expect him to be fine with a year under
his belt. There were a lot of
distractions with the bigger media market, HBO and the Winter Classic. It was no coincidence that he played his best
hockey of the season when he stopped with the shenanigans. This guy was a superb goalie before arriving
in Philadelphia, so the talent is there.
Will Nashville match?
You'll hear many media reports comparing this situation to the one
where the New York Rangers offered Joe Sakic a huge offer sheet when he was a
restricted free agent with the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche matched, but keep in mind that
was in the pre-salary cap era.
In the post-lockout world, it isn't so clear-cut. Nashville GM David Poile has said
on the record that they would match any offer made to Weber. NHL insider Darren Dreger said the current offer
could include up to $26 million in the first 12 months. For a financially responsible team like
Nashville, that is a lot of up front money.
Four 1st round picks could turn out to be great compensation for a guy
who could walk away for nothing a year from now. Nashville has taken great pride in their
ability to draft and develop players. At
the same time, this was supposed to be a new era in Nashville and letting their
top guys go wasn't part of the plan.
In 2010 the San Jose Sharks offered Chicago Blackhawks defensmen
Niklas Hjalmarsson a restricted free agent offer. Chicago matched, but it really put their
finances in a bind and San Jose took advantage a month later by signing Antti
Niemi away from them.
If the Flyers really do wind up acquiring Weber, he will do more than
vault their defense up the ladder. His
overall impact on the team would be unbelievable. In the playoffs, he's a 30+ minute-cruncher
who plays a shutdown role at even strength and on the penalty kill. He would also be a dominate force manning the
power play. Off the ice, a guy like
Weber would instantly change the tone of a locker room that missed the
character and leadership of Chris Pronger. The Flyers missed those intangibles last year more than they would admit.
Seven days from now, 15/1 odds to win the
Stanley Cup could be nothing more than a distant memory. We’ll see how much these odds change, but adding
Weber should put them around 9 or 10/1. If you shop around, you can find some value.