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Looking at the Weber offer sheet

Thursday, 07.19.2012 / 1:13 PM / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
UPDATED AS OF 5:31 p.m. Thursday

Now the Flyers sit and wait…

After getting restricted free agent defenseman Shea Weber to sign a 14-year offer sheet, the Flyers have to remain idle and wait for the Nashville Predators to decide whether to match the offer or not.

Up for a game of Dice with Buddies, Homer?

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren turned the NHL on it’s ear Thursday morning when it was reported that the team had made a bold offer to the two-time Norris Trophy finalist.

The Flyers presented Weber with an offer sheet after negotiations with Nashville on a possible trade for Weber stalled.

There have been varying reports about whom Nashville asked for, but the Flyers rebuffed every request from the Predators, some which included Brayden Schenn, some which included Sean Couturier, and one that even included Claude Giroux.

Um, no dice.

So now the Predators have to decide whether to match the Flyers generous offer, which reportedly includes more money in the next 365 days than Nashville made in ticket sales for the entire 2011-12 season.

And while the Predators bunker down for the next seven days and decide what to do, the Flyers wait.

However, trying to lock up Weber, arguably the best defenseman in the game, for 14 years sure seems to make a lot of sense as the only cost for the Flyers would be four future first round draft picks as compensation for Weber if Nashville does not match.

The Predators have said all along that they will match any offer sheet for Weber, their captain, but the Flyers may have figured out a way to make it impossible for the Predators to do that financially.

A report from SportsNet.ca reports that the Flyers have offered a huge percentage of the contract as signing bonuses, which, when front-loading the deal, could price out Nashville as the small-market team wouldn’t be able to commit such a huge amount of money in one calendar year to just one player.

If the Flyers were to land Weber, it would immediately give them one of the better defensive corps in the NHL with Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann, Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros and Luke Schenn and Bruno Gervais as a likely No. 7 defenseman.

 Weber is a two-time first team NHL All-Star and a two-time Norris Trophy finalist. He has drawn many comparisons to Chris Pronger as he’s developed, and is now hitting his prime. The reported contract would lock him up until he is 40 years old.

Weber has averaged 19 goals and 30 assists in each of the last four seasons for Nashville and is quite durable, having missed just nine games in that time.

Offer sheets are a pretty rare occurrence in the NHL, but this is the third time the Flyers have extended one to a player in the last 15 years.

They landed Chris Gratton from Tampa Bay in 1997, but had Vancouver match an offer sheet extended to Ryan Kesler in 2007.

Since the Flyers and Predators have been amicable trading partners in the past, there is also the possibility that a separate deal is struck between the two teams to “modify” the compensation, if in fact Nashville chooses to not match the Flyers offer sheet.

The Flyers have about $12.7 million in salary cap space without Weber, and are expected to get $4.9 million in cap relief when Pronger is placed on long-term injury on the first day of the season, but the Flyers still may have to do some creative maneuvering with existing salary to be cap compliant by the start of the season.

Many of those decisions won’t be made until later this summer, or even the fall, depending on how the new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and its players is constructed. The current CBA expires September 15.

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