The offer sheet isn’t something commonly seen in today’s NHL, but the Philadelphia Flyers decided to go ahead and force Nashville’s hand in the “Shea Weber Sweepstakes” by pledging a 14-year, $100 million offer sheet, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. If signed, the deal would keep the defenseman in a Flyers uniform until he’s 40.
Even with the additions of Luke Schenn, Bruno Gervais and Ruslan Fedetenko this offseason to strengthen the blue line, the imminent retirement of Chris Pronger has left a huge hole that the Flyers can only fill with someone as tough, mature, and talented as Weber.
The Flyers have plenty of depth with Andrej Meszaros, Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Schenn, Gervais and Fedetenko, but they still need someone who can fill the role of captain, slap shot scorer, enforcer and shut-down defender like Pronger did in his couple years with the team.
The team used trades, free agency and their farm system to boost the front line last year, acquiring Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, signing Jaromir Jagr, and seeing the blossoming of youngsters Claude Giroux, Matt Read and Sean Couturier. The problem wasn’t scoring, but keeping the puck out of their own net; the blame for that fell on Ilya Bryzgalov and the defensemen 50-50.
Of course, nothing is finalized yet. The Predators have a week to make their decision on whether to match the offer or let Weber go, but the loss of another high-profile defenseman—Ryan Suter—to free agency could keep Weber away from Paul Holmgren and the Flyers.
The first shot has been fired, but whether a second one will come still hangs in the balance. Whichever way it goes, Shea Weber is going to be a rich man.
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