Shea Weber is a stud defensemen that teams in the Atlantic Division won’t be too excited to see six times a year if he ends up in Philadelphia. Weber’s imposing physical presence can shut down top-line scorers and Shea Weber is a legitimate offensive threat from the point. If the Nashville Predators don’t match his $110 million offer sheet, Weber will be the newest, most expensive member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Shea Weber’s +44 differential and 193 points over the last four seasons could make the Flyers a contender, but the New York Rangers may actually benefit from Weber going to the Flyers.
The compensation required for the Flyers to land Shea Weber as a restricted free agent will be four picks in the first round of the draft. The Flyers appeared to be frontrunners to acquire Bobby Ryan, but the acquisition of Shea Weber likely ends trade talks with the Anaheim Ducks. The Flyers will have extremely limited cap space, will probably lose RFA Jakub Voracek, and no longer have draft picks to facilitate a trade with the Ducks without parting with seemingly untouchable prospects. The Philadelphia Flyers appear to be all but finished with roster adjustments, but the Rangers still have room to improve.
By acquiring Shea Weber, the Philadelphia Flyers open the market for the New York Rangers to trade for top-scoring forwards. Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets has a list of only six teams he’d be willing to be traded to, but the Jackets seem content to wait for an unreasonable package of prospects. With the Flyers out of the picture, the Jackets will either keep paying Rick Nash and delay rebuilding efforts or lower their inflated trade demands. The New York Rangers also just became the best offer on the market for Bobby Ryan should they choose to pursue him. If the Flyers land Shea Weber, look for the Rangers to respond with another top-line forward, and with limited competition on the market the Rangers will get a better deal.
Additionally, the 14-year Shea Weber offer sheet is not without risk. Weber is one of the best defensemen in the NHL, but he’s benefited from playing in Nashville his entire career. Weber was able to skate alongside Ryan Suter as one of the best defensive tandems in hockey. He also played in front of a spectacular goaltender in Pekka Rinne. Will Weber be able to duplicate his success in an open-ice system in front of Ilya Bryzgalov? For $110 million, shouldn’t the Flyers be sure? Philadelphia is cap-committed to Weber and Bryzgalov with Claude Giroux’s contract needs on the horizon. Even Scott Hartnell wants an extension. Rangers fans may soon look back on the Shea Weber deal as the move that crippled the rival Flyers financially – or the one that made them contenders.
If New York lands Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan, it might not matter.