Business has officially picked up on the NHL free agency front. It had been a boring couple of weeks ever since Zach Parise and Ryan Suter decided to sign with the Minnesota Wild, but that changed in a big way early Thursday morning when news broke that Shea Weber agreed to an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers. Here are more details:
Breaking: Shea Weber agrees to offer sheet with Philadelphia. 14 years, upwards of $100 mil. Preds have 7 days to match. Wow!!— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 19, 2012
Darren Dreger reports that the Nashville Predators were working on potentially trading Weber, but the Flyers apparently got tired of waiting and shockingly put out an offer sheet to Weber. It would be equally shocking if the Predators decline to match the offer sheet considering they now have an opportunity to lock up their captain for the next 14 seasons. The only thing that would seem to prevent them from matching is a front-loaded deal that Nashville can't afford.
This news is depressing for the Detroit Red Wings because they will no longer get a shot at signing Weber as an unrestricted free agent next July. Had he hit free agency in 2013, they likely would have been one of the favorites to sign him. Now, with Weber agreeing to the 14-year offer sheet, the Red Wings' chances of landing him are zero. To make matters worse, they were reportedly one of the "big players" in trade talks for Weber before he agreed to the offer sheet from Philadelphia.
I'm trying to go back to bed. More info coming in. Philly, NYR, Detroit and San Jose were big players in Weber trade scenarios.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 19, 2012
As the Rick Nash situation has taught us, being involved in trade talks for a player in the division doesn't necessarily mean anything. I can't even imagine what it would have taken for the Predators to send Weber to the Red Wings. It's one thing for a mediocre franchise like Columbus to trade its best player to a rival, but it's tough to even imagine a scenario where a contender in recent memory like Nashville gives its best player away to the Red Wings.
Looking back on all of this, I really wish the Red Wings had just offered Weber a ridiculous one-year deal. If Weber agreed to it, the Predators could have matched it, but at least you would know he would hit free agency next year. And if the Predators decided to decline to match it, the Red Wings would have added Weber for 2012-13. Of course, there would be the risk of losing four first-round picks and watching him sign elsewhere next July 1, but given the current make-up of their defense, I think that would have been a risk worth taking.
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