Nasvhille Predators ownership and General Manager David Poile made a somewhat surprising move on Tuesday afternoon, matching the Flyers’ offer sheet for Shea Weber. Weber’s new contract was set in stone one day prior to the deadline. There was some speculation that the Flyers could send some players to Nashville in exchange for the Predators’ management deciding not to match the offer sheet. The contract will be 14 years in length and Weber will earn $110 million over that duration.
David Poile stood by his word in matching the offer sheet, locking up one of the best two way defensemen in the NHL. On July 19th, Poile stated that they intended to match any offer sheet and the Predators did just that. Here is Poile’s comments from July 19th:
“We are in receipt of the offer sheet signed between the Philadelphia Flyers and Shea Weber. Under the rules pertaining to an offer sheet, the Predators have one week to decide whether to match or accept the compensation. We have stated previously that, should a team enter into an offer sheet with Shea, our intention would be to match and retain Shea. Our ownership has provided us with the necessary resources to build a Stanley Cup-winning team. Due to the complexity of the offer sheet, we will take the appropriate time to review and evaluate it and all of its ramifications in order to make the best decision for the Predators in both the short and long-term.”
Predators ownership will have to pay Weber $27 million over the next calendar year and $68 million in bonus money in the first six years of the deal. Flyers General Manager, Paul Holmgren took a chance to bring a highly touted defenseman with leadership to Philadelphia, but it didn’t work. The Flyers released a statement via their twitter account after receiving word of Nashville matching the offer sheet.
“In tendering an offer sheet to Shea Weber, we were trying to add a top defenseman entering the prime of his career. With Nashville matching our offer, we wish Shea and the Predators all the best.”
Paul Holmgren held a conference call with the media on Wednesday morning to speak about the offer sheet. Due to the complexity of the offer sheet, Holmgren was not expecting the Predators to match the offer sheet.
“No, it was structured where we were hopeful that they wouldn’t match it. But, obviously they did and as I said yesterday we wish Shea and the Predators all the best. We tried to add, in our minds, one of the best defenseman in the game to a good, young, up-and-coming team, and it didn’t work.”
Since the Flyers will not be getting Weber, they are looking to make another move to improve their squad heading into the 2012-2013 season.
“There are still players out there that require a trade. It’s July 25th today, there’s still plenty of time before we can plan and rule out anything right now. As I said earlier, we really like our team, we certainly don’t want to make any drastic changes, but we are going to continue to look at ways to get better. The object is to have the best team going into training camp and that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll see what happens.”
The Flyers have Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Luke Schenn and Nicklas Grossmann. The sixth defenseman has not been set, but could be taken by a young defenseman such as Erik Gustafsson, Brandon Manning or Marc-Andre Bourdon. The Flyers signed Bruno Gervais in the off-season who would bring a right hand shot and a solid veteran presence. Holmgren talked about the youth on the Philadelphia blue line coming into next season,
“We do feel that way. We looked at that as an opportunity to add one of the top defensemen, if not the top guy. Our shot, it didn’t work. I love our defense; I love the youth of our defense. We have good size and we have some kids that have a taste now in Marc-Andre [Bourdon], Erik [Gustafsson] and Brandon Manning as well. We added Bruno Gervais in the summertime, who we really like. We are perfectly happy with our defense right now. To try and add a guy like Shea Weber, doesn’t really speak to anything other than maybe you are adding one of the best guys in the league.”
Figuring out the final piece to the defense is one move, but finding out who will be playing right wing alongside superstar Claude Giroux is another current void. Holmgren hinted that Jakub Voracek is an option and is close to being signed.
“Looking at my board I don’t know that I see the hole that you see. We’re obviously trying to get Jakub [Voracek] signed, and it’s only a matter of time. We envision Jake playing with Claude [Giroux] next year so, that’s the way we look at it, so I don’t see that as a big hole. Getting back to our defense, I really like our defense. What we did over the last little while here was try to add one of the best players in the game to our team.”
Another option for filling the first line alongside Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell is free agent winger, Shane Doan. Doan recently visited Philadelphia and New York and in all likelihood won’t sign with any team until the Phenonix Coyotes’ ownership situation is resolved. The Flyers’ General Manager spoke about the possibility of bringing Doan to Philadelphia.
“I don’t want to put words in Shane’s mouth, but I think first and foremost he would like things to work out in Phoenix. I don’t believe he is going to do anything until he has some answers in his mind as to what is happening there. I think he is a very loyal guy. He is loyal to Don Maloney, and the Phoenix franchise. I give him kudos for that. We will see how it plays out. I think in the end he would rather be in Phoenix in a perfect world. [It's] where his family has been raised. If he is ready to make a move, we have interest.”
The Flyers also could be in the running for Bobby Ryan, a forward for the Anaheim Ducks. Ryan is a native of New Jersey and has expressed interest with the Flyers following recent trade rumors. The Flyers would likely have to give up Matt Read, Andrej Meszaros and multiple draft picks to pry Ryan out of Anaheim. Former Flyers forward, Mike Knuble has remained a free agent so far this off-season and could return to Philadelphia and take over on the third or fourth line. Keeping salary available for restricted free agents down the road including Wayne Simmonds in the 2013-2014 season and Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier in the 2014-2015 off-season is not a terrible idea either. The Flyers are keeping their options open at this point, but looking to hold on to their young core including Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.