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Predators Hope to Avoid Crushing Blow by Keeping Weber from Flyers: A Fan's Analysis

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The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the richer and more powerful teams in the NHL. As such, Flyers fans like myself know that we have the resources to contend for a Stanley Cup, even if we can't win it yet. For the likes of small market teams like the Nashville Predators, they don't have that kind of power or brand name - and right now, Philadelphia is hoping they don't have $110 million of spare money either.

The Predators have under a week left to match the Flyers' 14-year, $110 million offer for star defensemen Shea Weber. They might not have that kind of money, at least for the backloaded first few seasons of that deal. But if they can't find a way to give Weber that kind of cash, it could cripple the franchise just when it was finally taking off.

Nashville, like Philadelphia, went to the second round of the playoffs this past season and got knocked out. In fact, both the Predators and Flyers got knocked out in five games, after it looked like they could meet in the Stanley Cup Finals. But after the Predators manhandled the Detroit Red Wings and the Flyers took care of the Pittsburgh Penguins, they were steamrolled by the less heralded Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils, respectively.

Since then, both franchises have had rough offseasons, yet the Predators have withstood more killer blows. Nashville already lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild, although Philadelphia also made a run at him and failed. Now these teams are locked into a showdown for Weber - the second of three stars the Predators revolve around.

If Nashville can't keep Weber, all it will have is goaltender Pekka Rinne to build on. But without both Weber and Suter to help him, it may be a one man show, for all intents and purposes. And for a small market team like the Predators to suffer such a double-whammy - especially when they looked ready to join the elite in the Western Conference - it may take a long time to recover.

Even if they resign Weber, the Predators will have a ways to recover from losing Suter. But at least having both Weber and Rinne will make it go down easier and give Nashville a chance to stay above water. If it can't, it will suffer while the rich get richer in Philadelphia.

In each of the major sports, it is easy to lament when small market teams are outspent by giants and can't compete as a result. In this case, the Flyers are the giants by comparison and would deliver a crushing blow to the small market Predators. Philadelphia can still conceivably contend without Weber - albeit not as well - whereas Weber's loss would be a much more devastating blow to Nashville as a franchise.

Can these Davids get the money together and match the Goliaths in Philadelphia? Or will the rich get more powerful while they can - before a lockout potentially breaks out on issues exactly like this one?

Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.

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