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Projected Destination: Nashville Predators
RFA Shea Weber has signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The stunning news—RFA offer sheets have become almost unheard of in the modern-day NHL—has set up a franchise-defining decision for the Nashville Predators, who have a week to either match the cash-laden contract or let their captain and team icon tragically walk away.
Bleacher Report's Trent Reinsmith explains the Preds' dilemma:
The Predators have been put in a very sticky position. The team has never been one of the deep-pocket hockey clubs, and a contract of 14 years for over $100 million may be tough for ownership to swallow. At the same time, the team just watched their other star defenseman, Ryan Suter, walk away as an unrestricted free agent, leaving a gaping hole on the blue line.
The Predators have a lot to think about here. The knee-jerk reaction would be that this is a slam-dunk situation, but the reality is that the business side of things may prevent them from matching the offer.
If Nashville chooses not to match, they will receive some serious compensation for Weber's departure, though. From NHL.com:
If the Predators opt not to [match], it is believed they will receive a package of four first-round draft picks from the Flyers, although compensation depends on the annual average value of the contract. The Flyers' first-round pick has been no higher than No. 20 in each of the past four drafts.
For now, the Preds' upcoming decision is utterly impossible to call. But keep this mind—in the last 15 years of NHL free agency, an RFA offer sheet has not been matched only once (Dustin Penner with Edmonton in 2007).
In the end, Shea Weber will never be anything but a Nashville Predator.