The Predators took a necessary and expected step today by matching the massive 14-year offer sheet that Shea Weber signed with the Flyers.
This guarantees that Weber will be in Nashville for the foreseeable future. Nashville cannot trade Weber for this year, but it is plausible to think that they could work out a deal with Philly next season if they absolutely need to be out from under that contract. But with most chatter centering around a NTC/NMC for Weber, that seems quite unlikely. Matching the offer sheet also guarantees that the Flyers do not end up with Weber. From the perspective of those who hate the Flyers, this could be both a blessing and a curse.
While Philly will no longer have the services of Weber for the next decade-and-a-half but now have well over $7.8M in cap space to play with. That means they can go whole hog after Shane Doan and Bobby Ryan. Now that the Weber situation has been resolved, Rick Nash has found a new home and with the Parise and Suter sweepstakes long resolved, everyone’s attention will be turned to Doan and Ryan.
Since the Flyers have the financial freedom to explore every option available, they’ll surely big a major player for each of the right wingers. Ask yourself this. Would it be worse to see Shea Weber in Philly for 14 years or see them acquire Doan or Ryan as a result of missing out on Weber?
For me, the answer is Weber. All day, every day. Facing Weber on a regular basis would be far more nightmare inducing than the thought of Doan for three or four years or even Ryan. Weber is plain old nasty to play against – just ask Henrik Zetterberg – and seeing him on a regular basis in the East would be nightmarish. Obviously Doan and Ryan make the Flyers that much better, but not on the level that Weber would have. Plus, the Flyers are simply a potential destination at this point. There isn’t the near certainty that the Weber offer sheet entailed.
The Flyers will certainly move near to the front of the line of suitors for both Doan and Ryan; joining teams like the Penguins and Sabres as those reported to have a keen interest in one of the two players.
With Ryan’s name circulating the rumor mill for some time, most people have connected the dots between Nash’s final destination and when the dominoes would fall on Ryan. Doan’s name has heated up recently with rumors of a massive offer (4 years, $30M) and interest from a number of teams in the Eastern Conference.
As for the Sabres, not much has changed. If indications and reports on both Doan and Ryan are true, the Sabres still have interest in acquiring one of them. The biggest change from the Buffalo perspective comes from who they’re competing against. Whether or not the Sabres have the ability to land either is as cloudy as it was two weeks ago. Of course their main bargaining chip for Ryan likely went out the window when Derek Roy was traded to Dallas and their position on Doan may be weaker than other contenders. Now that the Flyers’ hat is back in the ring, things are that much more complicated.
Darcy Regier will still have some work to do if he hopes to bring either player to Buffalo. Competing against the Penguins and their budding arsenal is hard enough. The Flyers are a perennial free agent contender with the additional pieces that can be offered up in a number of different trade scenarios. The Sabres were looking at an uphill battle to land either Doan or Ryan, including the Flyers complicates matters that much more.
A likely scenario for any team at this point may be overpaying to pick up Doan as a free agent. The package for Ryan will be significant no matter who is acquiring him, whereas the competition for Doan will have more flexibility.
Ultimately having the Flyers end up with Weber would have been the best case scenario for teams in the East, regardless of the task associated with facing him at least four times a year. Teams like Pittsburgh and Buffalo would have one less major player to fend off when making offers for the remaining free agents and trade targets.
With Philly back in the picture, there is another big fish circling in the pond.