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Shea Weber inks 14-year offer sheet with Philadelphia Flyers; will Predators match?

Greg Wyshynski
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The Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators star defenseman Shea Weber have agreed to a 14-year offer sheet "upwards of $100 million," giving Nashville GM David Poile a week to match the contract terms. The news was first reported by TSN's Darren Dreger.

Weber, 26, made $7.5 million last season with the Predators.

Said Dreger: "Nashville was working on a trade and its believed several deadlines passed before Flyers grew tired of waiting. Weber signed offer sheet."

Poile had said repeatedly that the Predators would match any offer for Weber; but if a trade was in the works with the Flyers or any other NHL team, does that indicate Nashville's officially out on Weber?

Josh Cooper of the Tennessean lays it out:

The ‪Preds‬ have said they would match an offer sheet to Weber in the past. This depends on the up front money.

"Up front" as in signing bonuses. Keep in mind Ryan Suter received $25 million in bonuses over the first three years of his deal.

Depending on what Weber's cap hit would be, the Predators should receive four first-round picks. The Flyers own their first-round picks for at least the next two drafts, with the 2014 NHL Draft scheduled for Philadelphia.

The Flyers currently have $28.42 million committed against the cap to eight defenseman, which includes Chris Pronger's $4,921,429 cap hit that will be relegated to long-term injured reserve.

Elliotte Friedman played the prophet about this in his CBC column on Wednesday:

Look, if you really believe getting Weber is going to mean giving up four 27th picks, he's worth it. Now, I know the counter: what if he leaves you after just one year? This is the dicey part: you almost need a nudge-nudge, wink-wink "understanding" that he's going to stay. And, if Gary Bettman finds out, he's going to CRUSH the team that does it. Google "David Stern Joe Smith Timberwolves."

So, if it does happen (and most GMs are skeptical), the more likely scenario is this: a team calls Poile and says, "We're going to offer sheet him if you won't make a deal." (Phil Kessel to Toronto followed this path.)

And thus, the Flyers gave Weber an offer sheet that he signed. (Friedman indicated he thought the Vancouver Canucks might pull out the offer sheet for Weber instead.)

For Weber, it was an interesting call: Signing a deal now that could be susceptible to a salary rollback (his rather large signing bonuses would be protected), or waiting until a new CBA is settled, running the risk that term limits will be a part of the new rules.

So he opted for the term now, money lost in a rollback be damned.

For the Flyers, it's another bit of creative accounting from GM Paul Holmgren, as this deal will have been signed before Weber turns 27, hence it takes him right up to 40 years of age. Remember: "The salary cap hit for any contract that is five years or more in length and takes a player to his 41st birthday or beyond will be determined by the average of the yearly salaries only until the year in which the player turns 40."

It's also a genius move for Holmgren.

Assuming Pronger's done, the Flyers were looking at Kimmo Timonen with one year left on his deal at 37 years old; Braydon Coburn signed through 2016; Luke Schenn signed through 2016; and two more years of Andrej Meszaros.

(Speaking of Timonen: Wonder what kind of lobbying he and Scott Hartnell did with their former Nashville teammate?)

Weber is a game-changer if his deal goes through; an elite defenseman, a strong leader and an offensive force. The Eastern Conference has just witnessed a seismic shift in power.

Broad Street Buzz wondered this week what the Flyers would give up for Weber. They may have landed one of the best defensemen in hockey without surrendering a single player from their roster via trade.

As for the Predators fans … your heart goes out to them if they don't match.

Ryan Suter leaves to play with Zach Parise and chase an incredible amount of money. Weber feels betrayed and disenchanted by the whole thing, and decides his time in Nashville is over.

Two of the reasons why that town transformed into hockey-mad 'burgh, gone in a span of weeks. Brutal.

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