Ranger fans around the globe can breathe a sigh of relief, as the Nashville Predators decided to match the Philadelphia Flyers’ ridiculous offer sheet of 14 years and $110 million. The compensation heading back to the Predators, had they not matched, would have been four first round picks. There were rumors of the Predators trying to work out a deal with the Flyers, where Philly would keep their first round picks, but give up players from their roster in exchange for Weber. These talks did not materialize.
The prospect of having the Rangers forwards and defensemen diving in front of that howitzer that is Weber’s slap shot six times a year was definitely a scary thought. Luckily (and expectedly) the Predators matched, and Weber remains in the Western Conference for at least the next year.
The Atlantic division could have been about to change significantly for the Rangers and without them making a single move. The stark reality however is that the division’s order of power won’t change. The Philadelphia Flyers spectacularly went out and got All Star defenseman Shea Weber’s signature on a $110m, 14 year contract with a bold offer sheet. The Predators now has seven days to match the offer, something they are likely to do.
Nashville has what appears to be a straight forward decision to make. Weber is the face of their franchise (despite the presence of elite goaltender Pekka Rinne), an absolute game changing defenseman and a player who may not even have hit his absolute prime yet. Nashville has a large amount of cap space and still need to make the cap floor, something that matching the Flyers offer will help them hit.
In the end, Nashville will likely have to match. However, as Suit noted on Twitter, it’s not just the offer in totality that will be difficult for them to swallow. The front loading is the real issue. Despite their recent success, they are still a small market team and not yet producing the revenue it takes to hand out deals of this nature.
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One very interesting aspect of free agency that almost never seems to come to fruition is the offer sheet to a restricted free agent. In fact, there have only been six players who signed offer sheets since the lockout, and only one –Dustin Penner– that wasn’t matched. Penner is the most famous of offer sheets, as Brian Burke went on a rampage that the Oilers did not properly warn him about signing Penner.
So, based on Burke’s argument, as long as a team gives fair warning, like Burke did with Phil Kessel, then it’s a-okay to target RFAs. This year, there are many names that qualify for restricted free agency, but the big names include the likes of Shea Weber, Evander Kane, Mike Green, Kris Versteeg, Erik Johnson, Mayson Raymond, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, and Dmitry Kulikov. There’s some solid talent to be had.
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