NHL Free Agency: How Shea Weber's Contract Offer Helps the New Jersey Devils
According to the New York Times, Philadelphia offered the 26-year-old restricted free agent a deal worth $110 million over 14 years, most of which is front-loaded and filled with bonuses that will be paid over the first three years. Nashville has until Wednesday to match the offer.
Either way, whether Weber returns to Nashville or heads to Philadelphia, the Devils are making out big on the move. It just depends on how you look at the scenarios.
According to Cap Geek, the Flyers will take an annual cap hit of $7.85 million over the next 14 seasons, making Weber one of the richest players in the NHL. This will leave Philadelphia with minimal cap space going into the 2012-2013 season, and although Chris Pronger could potentially retire once the move is made, they won't have much cap next offseason to re-sign leading goal scorer Scott Hartnell.
More importantly, if the Flyers do sign Weber to the new contract, they would have to surrender four first round draft picks over the next five years. The team's average age is currently 27 years old (15th oldest in the league), and without a high draft pick combined with a reduction in cap space, it may become hard for Philadelphia to keep a quality team.
The other scenario, as rumored today by The Boston Herald, is a trade between the Flyers and Predators. In this case, Philadelphia would potentially keep some of their first round picks, but would have to give up young talent in the process. TSN's Darren Dreger reported that Nashville wanted Sean Couturier and newly acquired Brayden Schenn.
Should Nashville match the offer?
New Jersey could take advantage of this. While the Devils are currently the oldest team in the NHL, they are in the process of grooming young talent such as Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, and first round pick Stefan Matteau. In the next five years, New Jersey could be loaded with young talent while Philadelphia deals with the prospects they have now.
New Jersey would also benefit from the possible trade rumors between Nashville and Philadelphia. While the Flyers would be getting one of the best goal scoring defensemen in the NHL, they would potentially lose their two best prospects in Couturier (19) and Schenn (20). Either way, the Flyers will be losing key parts to their future.
On the other side of the spectrum, New Jersey could benefit from Nashville matching the Flyers' offer. If the Predators sign Weber to a $110 million contract, it may become difficult for them to resign forward Andrei Kostitsyn to a long-term deal, opening up the door for New Jersey to sign him with the money they saved from Parise.
Kostitsyn has been on the rumor mill with New Jersey ever since Parise signed in Minnesota, and if Alexander Semin decides to sign elsewhere over the next few days, Kostitsyn will become one of the best remaining forwards available.
While Weber may not be heading to New Jersey, the future decisions of Philadelphia and Nashville will certainly affect the Devils.
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