The Philadelphia Flyers are under 48 hours away from either landing Shea Weber or going back to square one. Flyers fans like myself will lament if Weber's massive offer sheet is matched by the Nashville Predators, as a major piece in the Stanley Cup puzzle may then be lost. It will also hurt Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division race, considering how the New York Rangers have already gotten stronger recently.
While the Flyers wait for the Predators to keep Weber or let him go, the Rangers had more room to get a big prize right away on July 23. The offensively challenged 'Blue Shirts' made a huge improvement by trading for Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets, which will give goalie Henrik Lundqvist more support if all goes well - and make the Rangers that much harder to knock off.
The Flyers went 0-6 against the Rangers last season, which is partly how New York won the Atlantic and got two wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals. This happened while the Rangers were being carried by Lundqvist much of the time, as they didn't have a regular 30-goal scorer and often didn't need one. Yet Nash has scored an average of 34 goals in the last eight years with a perennial last place team.
Technically, the Flyers were a better fit to make a deal with the Blue Jackets, given how Philadelphia sent Jeff Carter and Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus in the last two years. However, the Flyers are frozen in place right now and likely won't have time or options to get another major free agent, should Weber stay in Nashville.
What's more, Philadelphia will now look like a bigger loser if Weber doesn't come over, after New York landed its own big prize. The Rangers filled the biggest need they had and are better positioned for another Stanley Cup run, whereas the Flyers would lose out on the major replacement they needed for Chris Pronger. The gap between the Flyers and Rangers would then widen further - to say nothing of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils still posing a threat.
New York got all the luck last regular season and in most of the postseason, at least compared to Philadelphia. Yet both clubs are historically unlucky when it comes to winning Cups, no matter what they do. But the Rangers got closer to fixing that than the Flyers did last year, and are even closer at the moment with Nash on board.
Would Weber joining the Flyers make a bigger impact than Nash joining the Rangers? It is hard to say right now, but Philadelphia would like to find out - and if it can't, then New York can breathe even easier.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
Other stories from this contributor
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Shea Weber
- New York Rangers
- Nashville Predators