One thing that we do not see too often in the NHL is the use of the restricted free-agent offer sheet. Well, if the reports are to be believed, the Flyers have extended an offer sheet to Nashville defenseman Shea Weber, and it's a doozy.
According to TSN.ca’s Darren Dreger, Weber has signed a 14-year deal in the $100 million range. The next move in this process goes to the Predators, as they have the right to match the offer. If they choose to do so, they must sign Weber to the deal that was offered. If they refuse to match the Flyers’ offer, they would receive draft picks as compensation. The Predators have seven days to decide.
Will Nashville match the offer?
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 its 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.
The Flyers are not strangers to the offer sheet. In 1997, they offered Tampa Bay Lighting forward Chris Gratton a five-year deal worth an average of $3.3 million per season plus a $9 million signing bonus. The Flyers obviously hope that the Weber deal, if the Predators don’t match, works out much better. Gratton didn’t even play two full seasons with the Flyers before they traded him back to the Lightning.
A 14-year deal will keep Weber signed until he is 40.
UPDATE: Nick Kypreos has tweeted details of the Flyers offer sheet:
UPDATE: Darren Dreger has tweeted that the bonus portion of the deal is very significant, giving Weber $68 million in bonus money, with $27 million of that coming within one year.