Paul Holmgren kicked earth last night.
The Flyers and Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber have agreed to a 14-year offer sheet, reported to be worth upwards of $100 million. The Preds will have one week to match the Flyers’ offer. If they do, Weber goes back to Nashville– no questions asked. If they don’t, Weber comes to Philadelphia (he was allegedly here last week) and the Flyers will owe up to four consecutive first-round picks to the Predators. That’s a lot, but the Flyers have spent the last year retooling and getting younger. They have high-ceiling youngsters Brayden Schenn and Sean Couutier, as well as Scott Laughton, who they drafted this year. Plus, there’s Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek (for now), Matt Read and others. They are plenty young, and adding a defenseman like Weber, one of the best in the league, is a huge move to win now and in the future. Weber is only 26 and would be locked up with the Flyers until he is 40. That’s intentional, because, per the NHL’s CBA (which is probably going to be shredded and saucered into the wind soon), the cap hit for a player signed to a long-term deal that takes him beyond his 41st birthday is determined by the average of yearly salaries until the year the player turns 40. Basically, tacking on years beyond someone’s 41st birthday does no good to lessen his cap hit. So, Weber’s would be $7.15 million per year with a 14-year, $100 million deal.
It’s a balls-out move from Holmgren. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, who broke the news, the Flyers set several deadlines for a trade with the Predators, but, when they all passed, Holmgren just decided to make an offer. Here, match this!
Predators part-owner Brett Wilson, who was presumably rocketed to consciousness late last night by a massive teabag from Holmgren, acknowledged his, um, knowledge of the offer:
The ball’s, quite literally, in his court now.
Let’s hear some reaction. First, the Flyers, who confirmed the offer sheet, but said there would be no further comment at this time. Though I’m hearing they may just put two massive stones on display at the Wells Fargo Center for all to admire.
Here's their entire press release:
Clearly, adding Weber would be a massive win for the Flyers and give them one of the best defenses in the league– a huge shift from where they were last season.
[If you're looking for more info, each of these takes are worth reading in their entirety]
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.
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.
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.
It's late at night and really tough to digest this in full, but the initial reaction is that: a) Shea Weber is an amazing defenseman and having him on the team fills any hole on defense and would make this club immediate Cup contenders in 2012-13, b) losing four firsts would hurt but the Flyers are already pretty damn young and ready for a long run with this group and c) holy shit, is it fun to be a fan of this team or what?
Though the Predators will have a chance to match, the Flyers reportedly offered up to $26 million in one year, which would be a lot for a team like the Predators to handle.
According to Dreger, the deal may be structured in a way that would prevent a small-market club like Nashville from matching the offer, by way of $26 million in signing bonuses between now and July 1, 2013. That may be tough for Nashville to match, since they would be forking over nearly 16 percent of their entire franchise’s net worth ($163 million in 2011 according to Forbes magazine) in one calendar year.
Currently, the Flyers have approximately $12.7 million in cap space available for next season, not including Pronger's $4.91 million which can be moved to the long-term injury list. That number is based on the temporary cap ceiling of $70.2 million, which could indeed fall based on the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current deal expires on Sept. 15, and with a lockout now looming, the NHL's first proposal at the negotiating table included a cap drop to $64 million for next season. Any of those numbers could limit the Flyers to re-signing restricted free agent Jake Voracek, who is due for a decent raise.
Of course, the overwhelming sentiment is that the Flyers may have done the Predators a favor here. If they match the offer, they can control Weber FOOOOR-EEEEVV-EEEERR.
Holmgren and Poile are buds.. Holmgren knows Poile has already stated publicly he would match any offer sheet made to Weber. Now you could say he is just a GM making a statement to try and scare people away…that he can't be serious here…to which I would reply, "Have you MET David Poile?"
The Flyers offer sheet may be exactly what Poile needs to get a deal done. It's far easier to justify a contract of this size when you are telling your owners Philly has offer sheeted him than when you are saying I want to offer Weber 20 million upfront and another 120 over the next 14 years. (just a guess on the contract's possible price range based on what I am hearing)
There are many out there saying Weber signing this means he has said goodbye to Nashville. I would venture to say it is exactly the opposite. Weber has heard what Poile has said. What Weber did in allegedly agreeing to this deal, and it as of yet confirmed, is given up his UFA next season. Weber very well may have just agreed to play the rest of his career as a Predator, and one thing you can say for certain is Shea Weber is perfectly willing to spend the rest of his career in Nashville. That would be my guess as to how this plays out.
As we previously mentioned, Predators GM David Poile and the team’s ownership would be in for a huge backlash from the fans if they allowed Weber to walk, especially after their inability to re-sign Ryan Suter earlier this month.
On top of that, the Nashville Predators are currently $13,345,833 million under the salary floor with 18 players penciled in for their 2012-13 roster, according to Cap Geek. So not only do they have the space to afford this massive contract, they actually kind of need it just to get closer to the floor.
In some ways, this might turn out to be the Flyers handing the Predators the mother of all gifts. All Nashville has to do is match it and it’ll get him for the rest of his career.
Whatever happens, one thing is for sure– Paul Holmgren is sooooo much fun. He just couldn’t let a July go by without getting nutty.
On the other hand, it's awesome to see a general manager out there actually remembered they can hand out offer sheets to restricted free agents. It's so rare in hockey to see it happen even though I can't understand why, the "unwritten rule" talk is ridiculous when it exists in the CBA.
Naturally it was Paul Holmgren to pull the trigger on one too. Among many things that would probably describe Holmgren one of them is chutzpah. He has some serious guts with the moves he makes as the Flyers GM.
And just imagine Weber fitting in Philly. Oh would that be a site for sore eyes. They have a gaping hole on the blue line and what better way to fill that void than with one of if not the best defenseman in all of hockey? Four late-first-round picks doesn't seem like a bad price at all. OK that's an understatement. It's no deterrent at all if you're Holmgren.
Now, we wait.