The Philadelphia Flyers have already lost a few old favorites this offseason. Yet they now seek to pacify Flyers fans like myself by landing a major star from the Western Conference. He would fill a gigantic defensive need for Philadelphia and be hyped up as the final piece of the puzzle for a Stanley Cup. But if that sounds familiar, it's because they tried this same formula last offseason and didn't get any further for it.
Last year, the Flyers gave up Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to his mega deal. This year, after letting James van Riemsdyk, Jaromir Jagr and Matt Carle go, Philadelphia is looking to give Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber an even bigger mega deal to make up for it. In fact, his 14-year, $110 million offer sheet more than doubles Bryzgalov's paycheck.
Of course, Bryzgalov hardly lived up to his extravagant deal and massive hype in his first season with the Flyers. As such, fans may be a little weary of giving another major contract to a major Western star who hasn't faced this kind of pressure before. In any case, this would all be mute if the Predators match the Flyers' offer sheet, which is something the Phoenix Coyotes couldn't get to do when they let Bryzgalov go.
But if Weber actually makes his way to Philadelphia, it would be a case of history repeating itself. Bryzgalov filled the huge hole in the Flyers' net after years of a revolving door - even if he didn't always do it well. In Weber's case, he would fill the even larger hole that Chris Pronger left behind on defense - and unlike Pronger, he would have more than a decade to lead the blue line.
If this goes through, it would complete a second straight offseason where the Flyers filled a huge defensive gap, but lost some offensive firepower in the process. Yet last offseason, we all thought Philadelphia would barely score after losing Richards and Carter, and would need Bryzgalov to win a bunch of 1-0 and 2-1 games - but the reality was far different.
Will the Flyers again have more success with filling their offensive gaps than with their massive new defensive star? By this time next week, it may not be a valid question if the Predators find the extra money. But if they can't and Weber arrives as Philadelphia's new savior, it will be harder to avoid a sense of déjà vu - which is far from the best thing for this team.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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