Word was out late last night/early this morning that the Philadelphia Flyers made a move rare in the current NHL, offering Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators an offer sheet worth a reported $110 million dollars over 14 years. If the Flyers succeed, they get a very special defensemen that would fit right in with the continued absence of Chris Pronger. If they fail, they have certainly detonated a sort of atomic bomb on the Nashville salary structure, given their tendency to remain a budget team. The biggest winner in this right here move will be neither the Flyers or Predators, but rather Donald Fehr and the NHLPA.
In taking a neutral stance against the labor negotiations that are currently going on, the offer sheet does much to complicate the ownership portrayal that they are on corners panhandling all summer in order to feed their children. If Nashville matches, which is expected, how would they address the fiscal implications that would certainly come. There is usually some kind of financial benefit, like Minnesota has and will likely see, to signing a large free agent contract. This typically works out in the form of marketing with increased merchandise and ticket sales. Weber is already a member of the Predators, so there will be no large increase on that front. People in Nashville are also well aware of who he is so it will not likely increase attendance either. The best they could hope for is that by keeping him they can prevent a drop in numbers.
Nashville is by definition a small market team, which is really not the teams fault at all. Their footprint is smaller combined with the fact that they are in what would be considered a non-traditional market which to some degree works against them. The predators have almost always acted with strict financial restraint, which in reality is how a business should operate. This will be very interesting to follow the next seven days as the war of words that could follow this offer sheet might get interesting. Like Brian Burke and Kevin Lowe in a barn interesting.