Thursday, 19 July 2012

Talk About Brotherly Love

Is that a doubloon that Shea Weber is biting? It seems as though the big defenceman may have happened upon a pirate's treasure trove as he signed a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers last night, putting the pressure squarely on the Nashville Predators and, in particular, GM David Poile's shoulders as a tumultuous off-season continues in Music City. With Ryan Suter - one-half of Nashville's dynamic duo on the blueline - already bolting for the Land of 10,000 Lakes, losing Shea Weber would only further set Nashville back in the arms race in the Western Conference. Losing one big gun was bad enough, but both?

There's no doubt that Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren has bigger things on his mind. He missed out on both Zach Parise and Sute and he appears to have turned his attention away from Rick Nash, so that would leave only Shane Doan and Shea Weber on the free agency front as potential game-changers in Philly. Being that Weber is a restricted free agent, an overly-ridiculous offer would certainly put the budget-conscious Predators behind the eight-ball, and so begins the seven-day wait to see if Nashville will indeed match the offer sheet thrown at Weber.

It seems a little crazy that the Flyers would come out and offer a 14-year contract mere days after the NHL told the NHLPA that it would like to cap contracts at five years, but no one has ever accused the Flyers of playing by the rules. The Fkyers did exactly what they are allowed to do under the current collective bargaining agreement, and there's nothing wrong with that. But 14 years? This would essentially be the last contract that Shea Weber would ever have to sign regardless of how he played or if he played through to the end of the contract.

With Weber on their blueline, there's no doubt that the Flyers become the dominant team in the Atlantic Division. Imagine a blueline with Pronger, Timonen, Meszaros, and Weber? That's a pretty impressive top-four defence corps. Pronger, Timonen, and Weber have all been all-stars before, and Meszaros is a pretty solid defensive defenceman. All in all, Philly gets much, much stronger if Weber makes it through the next seven days, especially after losing Matt Carle.

Despite the money guaranteed in this contract, I cannot see Nashville not matching Philly's offer, especially when the return is only five first-round draft picks. That "trade" simply doesn't balance out for Nashville, especially when you consider that Weber will keep Philly in the upper echelon of teams for the foreseeable future. Nashville, more importantly, can't afford to lose their stat defenceman and captain, and this offer sheet will guarantee that Weber remains a Predator for a long time.

Philly is a better team right now on paper, but there's no guarantee that paper will amount to much if Nashville matches. If they don't, consider the Predators "also-rans" for the next decade in the Central Division. Weber means that much to them.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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