Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bombshell: Flyers make offer to Weber; will Nashville match?

The Flyers hope they have found Chris Pronger’s successor.

Bombshell: Flyers make offer to Weber; will Nashville match?

Shea Weber could be joining the Flyers after signing a 14-year offer sheet. (Mark Humphrey/AP)
Shea Weber could be joining the Flyers after signing a 14-year offer sheet. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

The Flyers hope they have found Chris Pronger’s successor.

His name is Shea Weber, a 6-foot-4, 232-pounder who is arguably the game's best all-around defenseman.

They signed a 14-year offer sheet for a reported $110 million late Wednesday night for Weber, a restricted free agent with Nashville. Weber, owner of one of the game's hardest shots, had 19 goals and anchored Nashville's stellar defense last season.

The righthanded-shooting Weber scored 10 power-play goals last season, had a plus-21 rating and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy, given to the league's top defenseman.

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TSN was first to report Wednesday's stunning development.

If Nashville matches the offer, Weber, 26, remains with the Predators.

The Predators, who lost all-star defenseman Ryan Suter to free agency recently, have seven days to match.

If the Preds don’t match, the Flyers would have to give Nashville four first-round picks — reasonable for a player of Weber's stature.

After the season, the Flyers said it was “highly unlikely” the team would make an offer sheet to Weber, the Predators' captain.

That changed after the Flyers struck out with marquee free agents Zach Parise and Sutter. Both signed 13-year, $98 million deals with Minnesota.

NHL owners are trying to put a stop to mega-long-term contracts. They want the new CBA to limit contracts to five years.

It would be shocking, however, if the NHL's Players' Association agreed to that limit. The CBA expires on Sept. 15.

The Flyers' deal with Weber is apparently heavily loaded with upfront money — a reported $26 million signing bonus. Will Nashville, a small-market team, be able to afford such a hit?

Then again, can Nashville afford NOT signing Weber after failing to get Suter back in the fold? (Of the seven offer sheets that have been signed since 2005, six of the teams matched and retained their player's rights.)

According to multiple reports, Weber would receive $14 million in each of the first four seasons, and $12 million in the fifth and sixth years, followed by $6 million per season in years 7-10. He would get $3 million in his 11th year, and $1 million in each of his last three seasons.

TSN's Darren Dreger said Nashville was trying to work out a deal for Weber, but it is "believed several deadlines passed before the Flyers grew tired of waiting and Weber signed the offer sheet."

 Give the Flyers credit for their boldness. If they land Weber, they would probably have the league's best defense, one that might look like this: Weber and Kimmo Timonen, his former Nashville teammate; Braydon Coburn and Nick Grossmann; and Andrej Meszaros and Luke Schenn.

Bruno Gervais, Erik Gustafsson, Marc-Andre Bourdon and Andreas Lilja would be among the candidates for the extra D-man spot.

By giving an offer sheet to Weber, the Flyers are, in a roundabout way, saying what everyone has feared — that Pronger's Hall-of-Fame career is over because of a concussion.

With Weber the Flyers would become instant Stanley Cup contenders.

Without him, they have not made improvement from the team that was eliminated in the second round of last season's Stanley Cup playoffs.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.

Staff Writer
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