The mere fact that a team actually signed a restricted free agent to a rare NHL offer sheet is rather noteworthy in and of itself, but this particular one is a doozy: The Flyers have inked Shea Weber to a fourteen-year offer sheet. ESPN reports that it’s worth upwards of $100 million, while TSN puts the total value at $110 million. Nashville has seven days to match. This off-season has taken a turn.
It’s not hard to see why the Flyers took a shot at landing Weber using an offer sheet: He turns 27 next month, and he’s established himself as one of the league’s elite defensemen. He’s a two-time Norris finalist, is physical in his own end, and he’s a legitimate power-play quarterback with one of the hardest shots in the league. If Nashville doesn’t match, the Flyers would likely have to fork over four first-round picks, depending on the terms of the contract. It would also mean a significant cap hit for the Flyers, but he’s the type of talent that’s worth making a big commitment to. The Flyers lost Chris Pronger to a concussion last year, and he may never play again. Weber would fill that void. The Philadelphia Daily News says it would be the biggest prize landed by the Flyers since the Eric Lindros trade twenty years ago. We would agree.
Needless to say, the addition of Weber to the Philly blue line would impact the rest of the Eastern Conference, and the Atlantic division especially. And while it’s moot now, this seems like a place to note that TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that the Rangers had been “big players” in various trade scenarios with Nashville, as were a few other teams (including the Flyers).
It’s an interesting move for Weber: The Predators lost Ryan Suter earlier in the postseason, and Weber’s agent said earlier this month that his client was “still in a state of disbelief.” Signing the offer sheet means he’s willing to leave, obviously, but it also means he’s willing to stay. If Nashville doesn’t match, it’s his ticket out of town; if they do, it’s the long-term deal, at a fair market value, that he naturally desires. (If the Preds match, by the way, they can’t trade him for one year, as per the current CBA.) And if all Weber was concerned with was getting the best deal possible, no matter the team, Greg Wyshynski notes that while the non-bonus money in his contract could be to a salary rollback depending on the terms of the new CBA, had he waited until unrestricted free agency to sign a long-term deal, the new CBA could have limited the contract’s terms.
Perhaps this is a ploy to force Nashville to give him the type of contract he’d be worth on the open market, though at this point, his motives don’t really matter. Nashville’s either going to match or decline to match. Speaking of which: They’ve said in the past that they will match an offer sheet for their franchise player, though, obviously, there was no specific offer sheet (with an actual dollar figure to speak of) when they said it. Joshua Cooper of The Tennessean says whether they match will depend on how much money the deal includes up front in signing bonuses; the TSN report says the deal includes $68 million in bonus money in the first six years.