NHL Free Agency 2012: Should Philadelphia Flyers Send Offer Sheet to Shea Weber?

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NHL Free Agency 2012: Should Philadelphia Flyers Send Offer Sheet to Shea Weber?
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Shea Weber has been called the closest thing to Chris Pronger in the NHL, and that's pretty high praise.

It's also exactly what the Flyer's blue line needs right now, as their defense went from one of their strongest points, to a weak spot when captain Chris Pronger was sidelined with a potentially career ending concussion.

Weber, one of the premier defensemen in the NHL, has been linked to the Flyers ever since as a potential replacement. 

Earlier in the year it was speculated that Nashville could only keep one of Weber and partner Ryan Suter, and that the other would be traded.

That didn't come to pass, as Suter left via free agency and Shea Weber currently sits as a restricted free agent.

The Flyers took a major run at Suter in free agency, and their reward was losing Matt Carle and having no one to really replace him as of yet.

Could they follow that up by going after Weber?

They could, but it would mean sending draft picks back to Nashville. Weber would likely command a salary a bit higher than Ryan Suter did, especially if the Flyers don't want Nashville to match, which would all but guarantee Weber's contract qualifying as a top tier offer sheet. 

That means sending Nashville four first round draft picks in exchange for the rights to pay Weber a salary in the range of $8 million plus for a lot of years.

Should the Flyers pursue Shea Weber as a restricted free agent?

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That is a ton to give up both in assets and cap space, but Weber might be worth it.

Along with being an intimidating physical presence and captain of the Predators, Weber is capable of logging a ton of ice time and being a factor on special teams.

He had 22 power play points last year, 49 overall, and is viewed as a shutdown defenseman by most experts.

The two-time Norris Finalist as best defenseman in the league brings a tremendous shot from the point, consistently recording the second hardest shot currently in the NHL behind Zdeno Chara. 

Weber is also only 26-years-old, meaning he's got plenty of years ahead of him to be a dominant defenseman. 

Still, for all his positives, four first round picks is a ton to give up for any player. 

The Flyers could make a case that they're young enough already, with top prospects like Sean Courtier and Brayden Schenn playing well last year.

Their core is also pretty young, led by Claude Giroux on the offense and Braydon Coburn on the defense. 

Adding Weber doesn't make them older and they could get by for a few years without first round picks, but it's never ideal to mortgage the future for one superstar. 

Weber could make the Flyers a Stanley Cup favorite next season, but they might be better off doing what they've done all offseason—keeping what they have and waiting another year before making a major move.

After all, there's a good chance Weber will be an unrestricted free agent next year.

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