The Philadelphia Flyers made a lot of room to possibly land Shea Weber for the next 14 years. But Flyers fans like myself focused more on the prospect of Weber leading the defense for the next decade, and brushed aside the cost. Yet offering 14 years and $110 million wasn't enough to scare off the Nashville Predators - so now that they've matched the deal, Philadelphia is left to wonder if it was actually too cheap.
Despite such a creative contract and an additional offer of four first round draft picks, the Flyers couldn't make the Predators go away. Since Nashville already lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild, Philadelphia really needed to offer the moon to make the Predators accept losing Weber. But a backlogged deal and future draft picks wasn't enough - so what might have been?
Sports Illustrated's Allan Muir said that GM Paul Holmgren "stopped running at second base" instead of truly swinging for the fences on this offer. Instead of just offering draft picks, Muir proposed that Holmgren should have parted with the likes of Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, as well as a few more "sweeteners."
The Flyers emerged with a whole new core of young budding stars last season, so trading a few of them would have perhaps given everyone pause. It's one thing to spend the budget thin by paying $110 million through 14 years for one player - to go along with the nine-year, $51 million deal for Ilya Bryzgalov that just started. Yet trading prospects like Couturier and Schenn, while having little room to fill the gap, may have been too much of a gamble.
Darren Dreger did allege on Twitter that the Flyers were willing to add Matt Read, Andrej Meszaros and a couple more picks to the deal, yet the Predators turned it down. Given how important it was for Nashville to keep Weber, perhaps nothing Philadelphia offered would have been big enough. As such, the only thing that might have come close was an established older star or at least three or four younger players - and that would have been too high a price.
To get Weber, many Flyers fans might have been willing to part with anything and everything, short of Claude Giroux. But now we can only wonder if even that might have been enough to make the Predators happy.
When Philadelphia failed to land Suter and Zach Parise, the argument was that it wasn't worth spending so much, sacrificing the future or breaking up a developing core for a quick fix. It may be a little harder to argue that now, given how close Weber came to coming here and changing the game.
But if the existing core was too valuable for the Flyers to break up now, even for Weber, the next few years would be quite a time to prove that it was worth keeping intact. Otherwise, Holmgren may look a little too cheap - as stunning as that sounds - when all is said and done.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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