Shea Weber Stays with Predators: What Now for the Flyers?

Bobby KittlebergerCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 07:  Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators clears the puck from Mike Knuble #22 of the Philadelphia Flyers on March 7, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Predators have matched the Flyers' offer sheet made to Shea Weber, which now means that Weber will stay in Nashville, leaving Philadelphia empty-handed.

What does this mean for the Flyers?

Weber would have obviously been a very significant signing for them, and now that he's out of the picture, it's tough to say exactly how GM Paul Holmgren will (or should) handle the rest of the offseason.

Where Weber would have been a huge help would be in the area of dealing with Chris Pronger's injuries and his eventual departure. Pronger will turn 38 years old at the start of the season, so even if he's able to return from his most recent concussion, he'd still have to be considered a player in the twilight of his career. Add to that the exodus of Matt Carle to Tampa Bay and you have a very thin Philadelphia blue line.

If the likes of Luke Schenn, Braydon Coburn and Andrej Meszaros aren't enough to keep Flyers management happy about their defense, they'll need to look at other options via free agency.

If they decide to go that route, the "pickins are slim," to say the least.

Bringing back Pavel Kubina could be a possibility, although at this point, he wouldn't be much more than a poor man's Pronger, with a big shot and body but not a lot of offensive upside.

A better choice might be Carlo Colaiacovo, who is a solid top-four d-man, despite having injury trouble in the past. Beyond these two, the list of free-agent defensemen is fairly thin.

Another factor to consider is the possibility that this could severely derail the Flyers' rumored interest in Bobby Ryan, as it would require the Flyers to shift their focus to defense instead of offense.

The fact is, if a team is willing to pay any player the amount of money the Flyers were willing to pay Weber, then there's definitely a need to be filled. Philadelphia missed out this time, and it may have to wait another season before it gets that kind of opportunity again.