Poile, Preds saved the Flyers a decade ago

Shea Weber
May 9, 2016: Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber (6) is shown during game six of the Western Conference semi-final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks, held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire)

On this day a decade ago, the Philadelphia Flyers took their shot at Shea Weber, offering a 14yr/$110mil contract. He nearly became a Flyer, but the Nashville Predators matched the offer five days later.

Only two seasons earlier, Philadelphia lost their Stanley Cup finals bid in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Chris Pronger seemed like the missing piece. A season later, Pronger took a stick to the eye on October 24th, 2011. During a 4-2 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Flyers lost their captain permanently. Pronger played his last NHL game, losing his peripheral vision.

“I don’t have very good peripheral vision. That so-called sixth sense? I used to have a really good one. Now, I couldn’t feel anyone coming around a corner. My kids scare me all the time.”

Chris Pronger; 3/6/2013

In 3:47, everything changed.

Without Pronger, Paul Holmgren knew he had to make a splash. The entire league saw Weber, a restricted free agent, as a staple for a growing franchise. In 78 games played during the 2011-2012 season, Weber notched 49pts (19G, 30A.) Holmgren knew that he would be the right cornerstone player to fill the void left behind by an unfortunate career-ending injury to Pronger.

Or, Weber would have been. He signed the long extension with the Predators, who would trade him on June 29th, 2016, to the Montreal Canadiens for PK Subban. Six years later, Weber is on the same contract with the Vegas Golden Knights following another trade, while Philadelphia is still attempting to stabilize.

Thank you, David Poile

Matt Carle bailed to the Tampa Bay Lightning, putting Holmgren in a tighter spot with his defense. Securing a top-four defenseman was a requirement. In order to, Holmgren sent James van Riemsdyk to the Maple Leafs for Luke Schenn.

Heading into 2012-2013, the Flyers had Kimo Timonen, Bruno Gervais, Braydon Coburn, Schenn, Nicklas Grossman, and Erik Gustafsson. Had Weber accepted the offer sheet from Philadelphia, he would have slotted next to Timonen for a second time in his career.

On the blue line, Weber would have been the ideal fit with Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Brayden Schenn.

Despite the cumbersome contract, Weber would’ve helped the Flyers remain a perennial playoff team. Weber is due ~$7.857mil/AAV through 2025-2026 when he’ll be 40 years old. It’s also likely that Weber wouldn’t have spent his entire contract with Philadelphia, as he didn’t with Nashville. The Flyers would’ve spent four first-round picks in addition to the offer sheet amount for Weber, too.

The Predators would’ve had Philadelphia’s first-round picks in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Holmgren selected Sam Morin in 2013, then Ron Hextall selected Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov (and Travis Konecny,) and German Rubtsov. If Nashville drafts more effectively than the Flyers, they could’ve had Max Domi and Seth Jones in 2013, David Pastrnak and Kevin Fiala in 2014, Mikko Rantanen in 2015, and Tage Thompson with Dante Fabbro in 2016. It’s all hindsight now, but if the stars aligned, it would’ve been worth allowing Holmgren to have Weber if you’re David Poile. With the cap management in Philadelphia, they’re almost lucky Weber didn’t go to the City of Brotherly Love over the Music City.

(Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire)