Philadelphia Flyers, Shea Weber and Alternative Compensation for the Nashville Predators: Fan Analysis

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The Philadelphia Flyers may officially secure Nashville Predators restricted free agent Shea Weber this week if his current employer refuses to meet the terms of an aggressive deal that he recently signed.

Weber isn't likely to ever to play for 14 years with the Flyers, or with the Predators. The reported amount of the long-term deal's total worth, in the range of $110 million, isn't funny money. Because so many of those serious dollars have been front-loaded through bonuses, Nashville may simply choose to opt out.

If the Predators do decline to match Philadelphia's offer sheet, they would receive four first round draft picks as 'compensation' for their then-former captain.

Every hockey fan is aware that Nashville lost defenseman Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild via free agency this summer. Losing Weber would leave them with two big sets of blue line skates to fill.

Great intrigue

Speculation about what might happen, subsequent to Weber becoming a Flyer, is part of the intrigue surrounding this situation.

Since the Flyers and Predators weren't able to finalize a trade for the seven-year veteran, general manager Paul Holmgren has taken this bold step in another attempt to compensate for Chris Pronger's absence. While 'Prongs' is incomparable, Weber would most definitely solidify head coach Peter Laviolette's top defensive pairing.

Many people believe that Weber's addition should increase the Flyers ability to make a stronger postseason push next spring and for many springs that are yet to come. Regarding the 2012-13 season, all due respect is given to concerns about current collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

A fair return

It would seem that if the Flyers would be willing to exchange some of their players for the picks that the Predators would receive, then some of their current defensemen would be strong candidates to be dealt.

Among younger players, Marc-Andre Bourdon (who has had health issues and is a restricted free agent) and Erik Gustafsson are attractive commodities. Bourdon will turn 23 in September, while Gustafsson will turn 24 in December. Both are solid prospects with upside potential.

Among the veteran defensive core, Andrej Meszaros (who will turn 27 in October) seems like the most likely person to be moved. He's a good player who has a cap hit of $4 million for each of the next two seasons, after which he will become an unrestricted free agent. However, any concerns about his recent back surgery would have to be allayed.

The idea of sending veteran Kimmo Timonen, who is 37 and will be playing in the final year of his contract, back to his original team is interesting. He has a $6.33 million cap hit for the coming season and may not be amenable to the move. No one should believe that this option isn't possible, as nothing is certain when it comes Flyers' trades.

Because Holmgren hasn't signed his own restricted free agent Jakub Voracek yet, that soon-to-be 23-year-old winger seems like someone who may also be offered to Nashville general manager David Poile.

It would be very disconcerting to see Matt Read, whose name has been in the air as well, leave town. He was such a pleasant surprise last season, is only 26 and plays a great two-way game.

The resolution to the cliffhanger of this summer soap opera may not be available for download until late Wednesday (July 25). All Flyers and Predators loyalists are nervously waiting to see how this story ends.

Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.

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